Court upholds FCC’s plan to fund upgrades for broadband access in rural areas

The United States Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of an FCC decision that would allow for the reallocation of a $4.5 billion fund intended for improving land line telephone service in rural communities. Now, that money can be used towards upgrades for better broadband Internet access in those same areas.

Back in October 2011, the FCC voted unanimously in favor of the fund reallocation. The initiative, dubbed Connect America, was expected to provide faster access to the Internet for roughly 7 million Americans without broadband. Plus, a separate $500 million fund was to be used toward expanding mobile broadband access in rural areas. Connect America is part of a larger $8 billion program designed to improve access to such services for schools, low income families, and more.

However, a multitude of phone companies challenged the FCC’s decision to divert the flow of this funding. The strongest opponents of the reallocation reportedly stood to lose substantial amounts of money in the form of subsidies. Plus, rural carriers believed that the FCC’s efforts to revamp the inter-carrier system of compensation, where one carrier pays another one to handle calls, would result in the loss of considerable amounts of cash.

“Congress has directed the commission to ensure that all Americans receive the benefit of 21st-century communications. With today’s across-the-board affirmance of our landmark 2011 reforms, the commission has tools in hand to accomplish that critical goal,” FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart said.

However, this decision by the court does raise at least one question. Are more appeals/challenges possible? If so, it’ll be interesting to see whether this case will continue to be heard by our nation’s court system.

What do you think? Sound off in the comments below.

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