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FCC pledges more funding for rural broadband deployment

Some customers could see their download speeds boosted to at least 25 Mbs under the FCC's plan.

James Martin/CNET

The Federal Communications Commission on Monday announced an additional $67 million in annual support to bring improved broadband service to rural America.

The money is intended to help rural broadband providers deliver improved service to nearly 110,000 homes in rural communities in 43 states, the FCC said Monday. Under the FCC's guidelines, rural customers would see their download speeds increase to at least 25 Mbps and uploads to 3 Mbps.

Today, 34 million Americans lack an affordable and reliable broadband connection. Of these, 19.4 million live in rural areas, according to a report from the FCC using 2016 figures. 

The federal government has made rural broadband a priority, with loans and grants distributed by the FCC and the US Department of Agriculture. The FCC plans to distribute up to $1.98 billion over 10 years as part of its Connect America Fund Phase II. Last year, Congress allocated $600 million to the US Department of Agriculture for a new broadband pilot program, though the USDA hasn't yet decided the parameters for distributing the money.

"The Connect America Fund is key to this effort, providing funding in sparsely populated rural areas where the cost of providing and deploying service can be high," the FCC said in a statement.