FCC approves broadband Internet plan, promises 500,000 jobs
The Federal Communications Commission has approved a plan to expand high-speed Internet access in parts of the U.S. that currently have slower connections, such as rural areas.
The FCC, in a statement announcing its plans, said it has enacted "the most significant policy step ever taken to connect all Americans to high-speed Internet, wherever they live."
The new broadband internet access plan will come in the form of changes to the FCC's existing Universal Service Fund and intercarrier compensation systems.
"Those systems have been widely viewed as broken, and long overdue for reform," the commission said. "Efforts to expand high-speed Internet to rural America over the next six years will increase economic growth by $50 billion over that period" according to FCC estimates.
The reforms will result in the creation of a new Connect America Fund that has an annual budget of no more than $4.5 billion and will create hundreds of thousands of jobs, the FCC said.
"As a result, today's action has the potential to be one of the biggest job creators in rural America in decades," the agency said. "The FCC estimates that approximately 500,000 jobs will be created over the next six years by expanding high-speed Internet access to over 7 million Americans living in rural areas."
The broadband plan will result in higher consumer costs, the FCC warned, though it offered estimates that said the price increases would be "on average, an additional 10 to 15 cents a month."
The commission said that for every $1 in cost, $3 in benefits will result.
"And no additional charges can be imposed on consumer phone bills that are at or above $30 a month (inclusive of most fees consumers pay on their bills), nor can such charges be imposed on low-income consumers served by the FCC's Lifeline program," the FCC said. "Any new charges will begin to decline after six years."
-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles
Photo: FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski talks about changes to the Universal Service Fund in Washington on Oct. 6. Credit: Christopher Powers / Bloomberg