FCC order will increase Internet speeds in rural regions

The Federal Communications Commission passed an order Thursday that will force companies receiving federal funds to increase Internet speeds in rural areas. 

Companies taking advantage of Connect America Funds, a subsidy the agency created in 2011 to expand Internet access, will be required to service rural customers with speeds of 10 megabits per second for downloads and 1 megabit per second for uploads. 

In a news release, the FCC said it plans to offer a class of larger carriers, known as price cap carriers, nearly $1.8 billion in support  next year to expand service to over 5 million rural Americans. 

The order adjusts 2011 reforms by increasing the terms of support for these carriers from five to six years, provides increased flexibility in the build-out requirement and requires companies that turn down Connect America in a state to continue delivering voice service until it can secure a subsidized carrier that has successfully bid on the contract.

“Increasing the Connect America speed requirement means that rural Americans, like urban Americans, can tap the benefits provided by broadband through faster web downloads, improved video streaming, and service capable of supporting multiple users in a household,” the news release said.