Connect America Fund & What It Means for Rural America

11/22/2019 - Blog

High speed internet has become a necessity when it comes to thriving in the economy, pursuing education, and participating in modern society.

Students require access to the internet for research, studying, and homework; businesses require connection for communication, sales efforts, and relevance; and lastly, civilians need access for all of the above, plus the ability to stay informed about current events, participate in the global economy, and stay connected with others around the world.

Despite the fundamental need for broadband, millions of people in rural US areas lack access to quality broadband services, which can greatly hinder their ability to participate in modern culture, business, and education. With the Telecommunications Act of 1996, the FCC acknowledged that affordable high-speed internet is vital to all Americans, which led to the Universal Service Fund, which launched four programs. These are:

  • Connect America Fund (CAF): bringing accessible and affordable broadband services to millions of consumers nationwide
  • Lifeline: providing discounted phone and broadband services to eligible low-income Americans
  • Schools and Libraries, also known as the E-Rate Program: implementing affordable broadband for eligible schools and libraries
  • Rural Health Care: providing eligible healthcare providers with necessary telecommunications and broadband services

The Connect America Fund subsidizes rural broadband development to make it more cost-effective for telecommunications firms to bring affordable broadband services to the areas that have been lagging far behind. Phase I of CAF began to provide immediate broadband services to unserved areas between 2012 and 2013. Now in its second phase, which is to be completed in 2020, CAF is making a huge step towards closing the digital divide between rural and urban America. The FCC is investing billions of dollars to bring high speed internet to these communities across the nation and funding will be dispersed among approved telecommunications companies for the installation of fiber and cellular towers in rural areas.

Select approved service providers have already started receiving funding and are beginning to implement broadband in underserved areas. Proper due diligence, RF-EME, environmental health and safety, and FCC mandated NEPA services are key steps in the telecom development process. Collaborating with a trusted due diligence provider is the best way to go about the construction of hundreds or thousands of towers, as they assist with the development of new network architecture.

EBI Consulting provides full-service architecture, engineering, environmental, regulatory, RF compliance, and environmental health and safety consulting services to the telecommunications industry nationwide. Our clients rely on our knowledge of industry standards and regulations so they can focus on what they do best: building, developing, and expanding telecommunication networks and improving their customer experience. Contact EBI for more information on how we can help you maximize this push to connect rural America.


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