The Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday promised that nearly 400,000 homes and businesses will gain access to high-speed Internet over the next three years during the first phase of a government subsidy program.
The agency launched the first part of its Connect America Fund with about $115 million of public funding that will be paired with private investment for development in 37 states.
"Today's action is just the beginning of our efforts to unleash the benefits of broadband for millions of homes and small businesses in unserved rural communities across the U.S.," FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a statement. "In today's economy, broadband is a vital platform for innovation and opportunity, including jobs, education, and health care."
The Connect America Fund is part of a push to modernize the Universal Service Fund, which was designed for developing telephone service. The revamped fund now aims to connect to high-speed Internet service 7 million Americans who live in rural areas over six years; the remaining 12 million are to be connected by 2020.
The FCC calls the program the "most significant public-private effort in history."
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