Additional broadband access is coming to more areas soon in the U.S., according to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). 23 providers will assist in providing high-speed Internet access to over one million districts spanning thirty-two states. This is a $1.2 billion effort available via the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Making this one of the biggest broadband expansions in recent history.
In addition to this, the updated Rural Broadband Accountability Plan (RBAP) from the FCC will double the amount of areas covered compared to last year. This change will require the FCC to make all audits, verifications, and tests public knowledge across the country, creating an unprecedented level of accountability for this project.
Jessica Rosenworcel, the chairwoman of the FCC said on Twitter said, “The new RBAP will streamline our audit and verification processes while also making the results of audits, verifications, and latency testing and other information publicly available for the first time. These safeguards will ensure that program leaders do their jobs.”
The disparity in access and coverage of broadband internet has been ever more increased due to the pandemic. Remote work has become the standard as well as millions of kids doing distance learning, those in areas with less broadband access certainly feel the challenges slow speeds can bring. This additional access assistance will help remedy these gaps, however, the question is, will it all come soon enough? In addition to this project, $65 billion more will promise high-speed access for all households across the US, however a timeline has not been set yet.
Other than availability, another question would be cost. The FCC has one additional program to provide less expensive Internet access to those in need. This program will go through later this year, in 2022.
An interesting side story to all of this is how the private sector is, at the same time, attempting to increase connections across America, and the world. Leading aerospace giants have begun launching satellites into space in order to increase internet speeds in areas that have limited bandwidth options. Of course, this may lead to adding to the clutter of “space junk” over time, but in the short-term it will support internet access that is proving to be so necessary in this modern age.