Federal Government Establishes $20.4 Billion Fund To Push Rural 5G Broadband Initiative

The U.S. is far behind other counties when it comes to broadband internet speeds and availability. Much of the rural U.S. lack access to broadband, or only has speeds that don't qualify as broadband. The Trump Administration wants to change that and is putting big money into a fund that aims to ensure that rural America has access to 5G wireless broadband networks.


President Trump and FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced this week that a 5G-spectrum auction would be held on December 10th to open airwaves that can be used to deploy commercial 5G wireless networks. The wireless spectrum auction will be the largest in U.S. history and will cover three different radio frequency bands that operate at 3,4000 MHz. The U.S. is placing $20.4 billion into the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to build high-speed broadband networks in underserved parts of the country over the next ten years. The goal is to connect up to 4 million homes and small businesses.

The Trump Administration says that the fund will launch later this year, and wants the U.S. to be a leader in 5G technology. President Trump has promised that the government won't build out a nationalized wholesale 5G network. The President noted that in the U.S. the approach is private sector-driven and led. Past rumors and reports had suggested that the government might be involved in building out the 5G networks.

President Trump's comments have finally put to rest any rumors or concern that the federal government would be involved in a nationalized 5G network. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai also said that there would be other auctions after this one. For companies to qualify for funding from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, they must provide at least 25 Mbps downloads in areas that need connectivity.

Presumably, T-Mobile, AT&T, and other major wireless carriers will be bidding large sums in the auctions. T-Mobile has already vowed an unlimited nationwide 5G network. AT&T has bragged about its "real" 5G network in place now, but testing has shown that network is slower than some of the 4G networks operated by the competition.

Tags:  Broadband, 5G, rural