Today, the FCC kicked off the first announcement of Connect America fund deployment in the nation with events in rural California and Nevada. At ribbon-cutting events, I was joined by Frontier Communications CEO Maggie Wilderotter and met local residents, tribal, and business leaders that will benefit from the opportunities high-speed Internet will deliver to these areas. In these areas, broadband build-out will happen thanks to Frontier Communications, the first carrier to accept Connect America funding.
My first stop was Alpine County, California, a 100 percent rural county with the smallest county population in the state, where broadband has recently been built out for more than 600 homes and small businesses in the area. Here I met local business, firemen, and other public safety officials, who told me how broadband has improved their lives. I also met a local grandmother, who is now able to download photos of her grandchildren, and appreciated that broadband does truly ‘connect’ America. I also saw the Washoe Tribal Community, where tribe leaders told me how more than 200 members of their community now have access to high-speed Internet.
At Topaz Lake and Douglas County, Nevada, Connect America funds will help Frontier connect more than 400 homes and businesses in Topaz Lake and 5,700 homes and businesses in Douglas County for the first time. Here, business and community leaders extolled the real benefits that broadband will deliver. I met a doctor here, who shared his enthusiasm for the opportunities of telehealth, thanks to broadband.
As the doctors, librarians, business owners, and grandmothers told me today, broadband can improve the every day lives for rural Americans. In today’s economy, access to broadband means access to jobs and economic opportunity, better education and healthcare. That’s why the Connect America Fund – and the private investment by companies like Frontier Communications that otherwise would not have been possible– is so vital. The fund aims to connect 7 million unserved rural Americans to broadband in six years, and puts the nation on a path to connect all 19 million unserved residents by 2020. To see the full map of states like the ones I visited today, check out our Connect America Fund map.