Ars Technica reports…
The Federal Communications Commission is making another $2.15 billion available for rural broadband projects, and it’s trying to direct at least some of that money toward building services with gigabit download speeds and unlimited data.
The FCC voted for the funding Wednesday and released the full details yesterday. The money, $215 million a year for 10 years, will be distributed to Internet providers through a reverse auction in which bidders will commit to providing specific performance levels.
“We now adopt an auction design in which bidders committing to different performance levels will compete head to head in the auction, with weights to take into account our preference for higher speeds over lower speeds, higher usage over lower usage allowances, and low latency over high latency,” the FCC said. Prices should be “reasonably comparable to similar offerings in urban areas,” the FCC said.
I love this because it’s handling an old challenge in a new way. So often we use the tried and true solutions for problems when those tried and true solutions aren’t working for everyone. Government funding helped incumbent providers get 80 percent of the country covered with broadband but now we need new approaches to reach the final 20 percent. I’m using very rough (and sloppy) numbers to make the 80/20 point. It’s not that providers haven’t done a good job – it’s just that we need some fresh ideas to reach the last 20 percent – and it sounds like this auction may (like the rural broadband experiment program) be a way to come up with innovative solutions.