WASHINGTON (News4Utah) – The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says a significant number of Americans living in rural areas don’t have access to high-speed internet.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai toured parts of Utah last week to learn more about the challenges and opportunities in rural Utah.
About 10-percent of Utah’s total population lives in rural communities and for them, getting access to high-speed internet can be a challenge. Chairman Pai is working to change that.
Republican Senator Roy Blunt says when it comes to internet access Missouri is a black hole.
“We’re behind the rest of the country on this and I am not satisfied with that,” said Blunt.
Blunt says without broadband access everyone from farmers to students suffer.
“Whether it is farming in the field, whether it is keeping up with commodity prices, whether it is your kids having equal access to information when they are doing their homework as someone who lives closer to the schoolhouse when they do their homework, there is no reason we can’t solve this,” said Blunt.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says he’s found a solution.
“We allocated up to $2 billion to help address those gaps and fix broadband across the country,” said Pai.
The Connect America Fund is designed to bring internet access to rural areas. The program gives two billion dollars to select companies to build that infrastructure.
“They have certain service requirements that they have to meet in terms of speed and the like, and they also have a time frame in which they have to build out,” said Pai.
Pai says more than 100 providers will work in 45 states to expand wired broadband– and bring internet into homes.
“They have to build out to make sure that folks in rural Missouri and everywhere around the country are connected,” said Pai.
“There are lots of places that are hard to get to, there are a lot of places that are hard to serve,” said Blunt.
Pai says the goal is for every American to have internet access in at least 10 years.