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US communications authority calls for broadband subsidy

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering subsidies to fund universal broadband internet.

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The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering subsidies to fund universal broadband internet.

The subsidies would come from those paid by US consumers to telephone operators for providing services to rural and low-income customers.

According to the FCC, the US lags behind other countries on key broadband metrics.

Studies have shown that a third of US citizens are not online.

The US also ranks only sixth in broadband adoption, and last out of 40 industrial countries in its rate of improvement in innovation and competitiveness.

FCC chairman Julius Genachowski (pictured)d has made modernising and restructuring the $8bn universal service fund (USF) a top priority, according to the Financial Times.

The FCC is to vote today on making broadband services the beneficiary of the USF, which Genachowski has described as "outdated" because it was designed for a world in which mobile phones and the internet did not exist.

Under Genachowski's proposal, the subsidies for rural phone services would be phased out and replaced by a single "Connect America Fund" to bring high-speed internet to unserved parts of the country.

The UK government has also prioritised high-speed connectivity to rural areas with a £830m strategy that aims at putting a digital hub in every community by 2015.

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