More than 8.3 million U.S. homes and businesses lack access to high-speed broadband internet, the FCC said Tuesday in unveiling its revised national broadband access map
As part of the unveiling, the FCC announced that it had increased its estimates of homes and businesses without access to high-speed broadband by nearly 330,000 locations, with the data forming a crucial part of funding decisions. In 2021, the US Congress approved $42.5bn in funding grants for states and territories to expand broadband infrastructure for underserved areas.
The US Department of Commerce reiterated, through it’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) that it will announce by June 30 how broadband infrastructure grants and funding will be allocated to states and territories. The FCC has also stated that it will release major updates biannually, based on its mapping team’s reviews of availability challenges in around 4 million locations across the United States.
As part of broadband expansion plans, Congress also awarded $14.2 billion for a $30 per month voucher for low-income families to use toward any internet service plan of their choosing. A total of 18 million American households have signed up for the program. FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said earlier this month she expects the program will run out of money absent congressional action, as quoted in Reuters.
US operator Verizon, has raised concerns that the programme could run out of funding in the first quarter of 2024, and has as reported in Reuters, called on Congress to develop “long-term reforms to current broadband subsidy programs to ensure they operate efficiently, avoid duplication, and target funding to those who need it most.”