US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chief Ajit Pai (pictured, centre) detailed plans to establish a $9 billion pot to fund deployments of 5G in rural areas, which would supercede a previous programme covering 4G.
Under the plan, monies from the country’s Universal Service Fund would be available to network operators and allocated through a reverse auction. In a statement, the FCC said the goal was to boost availability of 5G in “hard-to-serve areas with sparse populations and/or rugged terrain”.
At least $1 billion of the total would be set aside for the agricultural sector, the regulator said.
Pai explained the Universal Service Fund “must be forward-looking and support the networks of tomorrow” to ensure rural Americans can access the benefits 5G is expected to deliver, while also meeting the “unique wireless connectivity needs” of the farming community.
“We must ensure that 5G narrows rather than widens the digital divide”, he commented.
The 5G Fund would replace the $4.5 billion Mobility Fund Phase II, which focused on boosting LTE availability, but hit problems relating to operator coverage maps, prompting an investigation into the data they provided.
Pai’s pledge came as Chinese vendor Huawei commenced a legal challenge to a move to prevent operators using the Universal Service Fund to purchase its infrastructure.Subscribe to our daily newsletter Back