The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has tapped 23 broadband internet organizations to help bring higher speeds to rural areas. The plan is to reach one million sections of the country including over 30 states in the process. The campaign will cost over $1 billion dollars – making it one of the largest efforts in history – and will be funded by the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, a fund originally created in February of 2020.

The FCC explains, “Without access to broadband, rural Americans cannot participate in the digital economy or take advantage of the opportunities broadband brings for better education, healthcare, and civic and social engagement.”

To make sure crusades like this are held to account and actually happen, the FCC has updated the Rural Broadband Accountability Plan (RBAP). This plan ensures an increased number of audits, verifications, and tests compared to last year, 2021. Not only will a higher percentage – almost two times as many – of these oversights happen, but the results will be made public on a website run by USAC. This will surely bolster compliance and help motivate beyond simply altruistic intent.

Jessica Rosenworcel, a chairperson from the FCC, posted on Twitter: “The new RPAB will streamline our audit and verification processes while also making the results of verifications, audits, and latency testing publicly available for the first time. These safeguards will ensure that program heads do their jobs.”

There is an incredible chasm – called the digital divide – in this country where less fortunate families and communities end up with fewer high-speed connections, sub-par equipment, and a serious lack of education when it comes to the Internet and accessibility to it. And this is all exacerbated in these times of remote schooling and working from home. It’s hard to have a Zoom call when your connection is weak or failing.

There is also a promise of an infrastructure bill in the future that pledges over $60 million for better Internet across America. This will be a huge complement to other efforts, but time is ticking and no roadmaps for completion of these programs have been shared yet. And the cost is the other leg of the stool when it comes to assisting those in need. How much will this all cost households? The FCC has answered with a new low-cost initiative for assistance to go into effect in late 2022.