By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief FCC Chairman Ajit Pai intends to establish a 5G Fund for rural America. It would make up to $9 billion in Universal Service Fund support available to carriers to deploy advanced 5G mobile wireless services in rural areas. The money would be allocated through a reverse auction and target hard-to-serve areas with sparse populations and/or rugged terrain. At least $1 billion would be set aside specifically for precision agriculture deployments.
In order for rural areas to see the same benefits from 5G as urban
areas, “the Universal Service Fund must be forward-looking and support
the networks of tomorrow,” said Pai in announcing the fund Wednesday.
Pai has seen that farms and ranches have unique wireless connectivity
needs, which is why he intends to move forward as quickly as possible to
establish the fund.
Agency staffers told reporters Wednesday the proposal would likely be
ready in the New Year. Exactly where the money should be targeted is one
of the questions the FCC will ask in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.