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FCC Continues to Ramp Up Broadband Connectivity Efforts

November 11, 2021 by Victoria Turner
FCC Continues to Ramp Up Broadband Connectivity Efforts
Jessica Rosenworcel

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission announced on Wednesday that it is ready to authorize over $700 million for 26 states in broadband funding. This marks the fourth and largest wave of funding from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The FCC has now committed more than $1.7 billion for 50 broadband providers to deploy services to 400,000 locations across underserved areas. 

“This latest announcement highlights the agency’s commitment to supporting even more opportunities to connect hundreds of thousands of Americans to high-speed, reliable broadband service while doing our due diligence to ensure the applicants can deliver to these unserved communities as promised,” Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a press release. “This program can do great things to help expand broadband in our country.”

According to the announcement, most of this fourth wave will go to nonprofit electric cooperatives. The states poised to receive this assistance are Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia and Wisconsin. 

This RDOF funding wave follows other funding commitments the FCC has announced this week in its efforts to continue bringing universal service to all Americans from bridging the rural digital divide to ensuring telehealth services continue and addressing the homework gap. 

Wednesday’s announcement followed Tuesday’s second round of federal funding for the FCC’s COVID-19 Telehealth Program, awarding another $42.5 million to health care providers and surpassing its $150 million benchmark by reaching about $166.13 million. These funding efforts provide reimbursements for telecommunication and information services and connected devices the providers have purchased to continue their telehealth capabilities.

And the telehealth funding comes on the heels of the FCC committing another $421 million on Monday for the Emergency Connectivity Fund to continue connecting students across all 50 states, Guam, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia. This brings the ECF efforts to a total of more than $3.05 billion, connecting over 10 million students, according to the announcement. Since the ECF’s launch, these commitments have approved 3.5 million broadband connections and 6.8 million connected devices to assist 6,954 schools, 613 libraries, and 80 consortia. 

Victoria can be reached at victoria@thewellnews.com

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