FCC approves $4.5 billion for broadband in "Era of Steve Jobs"

CBS/CNET
CBS/CNET

(CBS) - The Federal Communications Commission approved a $4.5 billion Internet fund that will expand broadband access to an estimated 18 million Americans. The subsidy got a green light with a 4-to-0 vote.

Submitted by FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, the Connect America Fund will speed up the expansion of high-speed Internet to places that are not currently served across the country.

According to the FCC, almost one-third of the country does not have high-speed Internet at home. That's about 100 million Americans. The agency also points out that over 80 percent of Fortune 500 companies require online job applications.

It's staggering to think that nearly one-third of Americans cannot compete in a global digital economy because they simply have no access.

A report released by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) measuring broadband subscriptions per 100 inhabitants worldwide places the U.S. in the number 15 spot, behind Finland and Belgium.

"We are taking a system designed for the Alexander Graham Bell era of rotary telephones and modernizing it for the era of Steve Jobs and the Internet future he imagined," Genachowski said at a meeting before the vote.

Genachowski presents a strong argument. If communication lines act as America's veins, it's essential to make that infrastructure strong.

A post on the FCC blog stated, "By helping complete our nation's broadband infrastructure through the Connect America Fund, the FCC can map a clear path to job creation, economic growth, and innovation in the 21st century."

Federal Communications Commission