A massive bipartisan infrastructure bill the Senate is debating this week would make a historic $65 billion investment in expanding high-speed internet, but the bulk of the funding would be routed through states, and rural broadband advocates want to see the Agriculture Department play a bigger role in distributing the funding.
The House Agriculture Committee unanimously advanced a bipartisan bill Wednesday authorizing $43 billion to expand rural broadband service nationwide by dramatically increasing USDA's expiring loan and grant program.
Satellite internet has had its challenges over the years, but billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk is attempting to vastly enhance connectivity and service speeds in a technology that could benefit some of the most rural parts of the country in the years ahead.
As Jessica Rosenworcel transitions into the role of acting chair of the Federal Communications Commission, rural broadband leaders are expecting her to maintain her criticism of the agency's broadband coverage maps and keep a focus on identifying gaps in high-speed internet service.
Over 5 million unserved rural homes and businesses in 49 states, along with the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, will get highspeed internet access through the Federal Communications Commission’s Phase I Auction of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.