New FCC Head Approves $170M for Broadband, Job Creation

January 27, 2017
By: Paula Bernier

Jobs were a central election theme for Donald Trump.

He began work on it even before his inauguration through discussions with Carrier that led the company to keep a few hundred jobs in the U.S.

One of President Trump’s first moves since stepping into office was signing an executive order to advance construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. That pipeline is expected to create new jobs.

And this week, just after the new president named Ajit Pai to head the Federal Communications Commission, the FCC’s (News - Alert) first move under the new chairman was to approve $170 million in new federal funding to expand broadband connectivity to unserved rural areas of New York state.

“Broadband is critical to economic opportunity and job creation,” said Pai. “This is a first step of many to fulfill my promise to empower Americans with online opportunities, no matter who they are and no matter where they live.”

The new funding is being provided as part of the Connect America Phase II effort, which the FCC put in place in 2011 to modernize the Universal Service Program, which ensured affordable communications service to poor and rural populations in the U.S.

Connect America has had mixed reviews. Some people think it’s helpful in making broadband services more widely available. Others, however, have said it just provides free money to those who are building broadband networks anyway. And some folks have suggested it has actually delayed broadband investment in some cases because network builders are forced to wait for government money to get started.

President Trump appointed Pai as head of the FCC on Jan. 23. The following day, Pai announced several staff appointments.

Pai, who has served as an FCC commissioner since 2012, is best known as a vocal opponent of the net neutrality rules put in place during the last administration.

Edited by Alicia Young