On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai provided remarks at an event hosted by Axios.com. Chairman Pai covered a broad range of policy issues, including rural broadband and the digital divide.
Chairman Pai said his top priority for the remainder of his chairmanship is to close the digital divide, which he argues is the number one issue in internet policy today. The FCC is softening regulations and issuing funds to help small providers build out broadband networks in rural markets at a more affordable rate. On July 24, 2018, the FCC will administer the Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) auction to provide funds that support broadband deployment in rural areas. CAF-II will provide $2 billion of funds to rural broadband programs over ten years to underserved communities.
Earlier this week, the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology approved legislation that would establish a new office within the Department of Commerce to streamline federal funding applications for broadband deployment programs. H.R. 3994 would establish the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth (OICG) to help rural communities get access to high-speed broadband. OICG will engage rural communities to develop best practices and strategies for promoting broadband access. In addition, the office will streamline the application process for broadband support programs across all federal agencies.
Source: RCRC Barbed Wire Newsletter [Emphsas Added]