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Connect America Fund: Putting Consumers on the Map

by: Sharon Gillett and Michael Byrne, Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau and Geographic Information Officer

October 12, 2011 - 11:09 AM

Last week, Chairman Genachowski unveiled his proposal to accelerate broadband build-out – wired and wireless – to unserved homes, businesses and anchor institutions across the country through the Connect America Fund. If adopted, this proposal would connect millions more Americans to high-speed Internet and bring enormous benefits to individual consumers, our nation’s economic recovery and our global competitiveness. 

View the full map

For example, consumers who make long-distance calls – including nearly all landline and mobile phone subscribers – will benefit from reduced prices or greater value for the money – or both, with an FCC-estimated $1 billion or more per year in benefits for wireless consumers alone.

Reform of the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Intercarrier Compensation  (ICC) system can’t come soon enough. There are currently 18 million Americans who lack access to broadband. The harms from not having broadband are rising every day for consumers, and for our country.

To help illustrate the size and scope of the challenge – and the urgent need for reform – we have developed this interactive map, which shows with striking clarity that large swaths of our nation are being bypassed by the broadband revolution.

On this map, you’ll see a mix of served, partially served, and unserved areas, often right next to each other. 

Without USF and ICC reform, the map is unlikely to change much.

The economic incentives for the private sector to expand broadband to many of these unserved rural areas simply don’t exist.  By helping complete our nation’s broadband infrastructure through the Connect America Fund, the FCC can map a clear path to job creation, economic growth, and innovation in the 21st century.

Updated: April 12, 2012 - 03:49 PM
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