While only 2 percent of Americans in urban areas lack access to high-speed fixed internet service, 28 percent of rural households can’t get it at home. In article published in the Herald Mail Media the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai outlines a strategy to improve internet access in rural areas.
The strategy includes:
- Public-private partnerships.
To spur network deployment in sparsely populated areas where the economic incentives for private investment don’t exist, the government is providing direct funding that leverages — not displaces — private capital expenditures. Through our Mobility Fund, a successful public-private partnership, the Federal Communications Commission recently voted to invest $4.53 billion over the next decade to bring 4G LTE service to rural Americans who don’t have it today. In addition, we approved $2 billion through our Connect America Fund to boost fixed broadband in currently unserved locations.
- Removing barriers to investment.
Bureaucratic red tape at all levels of government can slow the pace and increase the cost of network deployment. The FCC has proposed to change that to make it easier to install wired and wireless broadband infrastructure. These efforts will help broadband providers access utility poles, site wireless infrastructure and transition from yesterday’s copper networks to modern fiber networks.
- Tax incentives.
When removing burdensome regulation isn’t enough to attract network investment, we should consider using carrots. For example, members of Congress, led by U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins of Georgia, have introduced the Gigabit Opportunity Act. This forward-thinking bill would provide tax incentives for internet service providers to deploy super-fast broadband services in low-income areas.
- Promoting competition.
This June the FCC approved a plan allowing a company to use satellites in low-Earth orbit to provide high-speed broadband. This technology could be a promising option for those living in hard-to-serve areas.