US govt. to dole out $103 million for rural broadband expansion

The US government is set to dole out $103 million as part of federal funds towards extending broadband penetration in rural areas in America.

As part of efforts to bridge the digital divide, 16 telecom companies will share the proposed sum to set up high-speed broadband services in small towns which lack in broadband access, in order to improve their economic and educational standing, according to an announcement by the US Department of Agriculture.

The 16 states that will benefit from the rural broadband fund are Alabama, Arkansas, California, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

While the use of 3G is quite popular in many parts of urban US, in the rural hilly areas, connectivity is more of a problem, and thus they are unable to keep up with the rest of the country for use of facilities like real-time video streaming, video conferencing, and more. According to a recent report, 28 percent of rural America lacks high-speed Internet access of 3 Mbps or more, as compared to just 3 percent of people facing similar problems in urban areas.


Looking at these figures, the Federal Communications Commission released a national broadband plan last year that set a goal of providing 100 million US households with broadband connections of 100 Mbps by 2020, which is 20 times faster than most existing home connections.


While the majority of the funding is in the form of infrastructure loans totaling about $90 million for five broadband projects, about $13 million of the funding is being provided by the USDA’s Community Connect program, which provides grants to rural, economically challenged communities for use in schools, government and corporate offices and for residential use.

Meanwhile, 4G network expansion is being looked at as a boon for the US, with network investments predicted to reach $53 billion by 2016. According to estimates by Deloitte, 4G could also provide 7, 71,000 new jobs in the US by 2016.


Verizon has also promised LTE 4G in 147 US cities by the year-end, and LTE-enabled devices are selling out fast in the country, with total subscriptions set to reach 85 million, out of a total of 387 mobile subscriptions by 2016, according to ABI research.


By Beryl M

[email protected]