FCC gets approval for plan to subsidize fast rural internet access

At long last, the FCC can move forward with reforming its rural connection subsidies for the broadband era. A federal appeals court has upheld the agency's Connect America Fund after challenges from smaller carriers, which were worried that the shift from subsidizing phone calls to fast internet access would hurt their bottom line. Their arguments were either "unpersuasive" or were blocked from legal consideration in the first place, the court says.

The fund still faces criticism from those worried that the $4.5 billion in subsidies will hike phone bills through growing fees; there's also concerns that the occasional fraud seen in existing programs might carry over to Connect America. However, the plan may be worthwhile if it gives tens of thousands of homes a first chance at the speedy, affordable internet access that many of us in urban areas take for granted.

[Image credit: Associated Press]