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FCC pledges $524 million to expand rural broadband

The funding will support more than 200,000 homes and businesses in 23 states.

Broadband in rural areas in Meeker, Colorado

The FCC on Monday pledged to expand rural broadband to more than 200,000 unserved homes and business over the next decade.

Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Gr/Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission on Monday said it authorized more than $524 million to expand broadband in 23 states. The funding will add internet service to 205,000 rural homes and businesses over the next 10 years, the FCC said. Providers will start to get funding this month.

This is the FCC's third wave of funding for rural broadband as part of last year's Connect America Fund Phase II auction, which granted $1.488 billion to support over 700,000 homes and businesses. The agency also authorized funding in May and June to support connectivity in around 100,000 homes and businesses.

The FCC will authorize more funding in the coming months as it approves more applications from the auction's winning bidders.  

"High-speed internet provides access to opportunity in the 21st century, and the FCC's top priority is closing the digital divide so that all Americans can fully participate in our connected society," FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement. "Today's authorization of funding is the largest yet from the auction, nearly the double the amount authorized in the first two rounds nationwide, and serving over twice as many rural homes and businesses."

Among the 23 states receiving support from the FCC's most recent funding are California, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Virginia and Texas.

In 2016, 24 million Americans (7.7 percent of the population) didn't have broadband internet speeds, according to an FCC report last year. Pai has also proposed the FCC roll out a Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which would offer around $20.4 billion over 10 years to expand rural broadband. The agency is slated to vote on whether to set up the fund on Aug. 1. 

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