FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed Dec. 4 to create a $9 billion fund to support the deployment of 5G wireless services in rural portions of the U.S. The proposal would require approval from a majority of the full five-member commission, with a vote likely sometime in 2020.

The proposed “5G Fund” would get its money from the Universal Service Fund (USF), which is administered by the agency to promote the deployment of communications services to underserved areas of the U.S. Pai said today that funding would be allocated to service providers through a reverse auction process, and that money for the proposed 5G Fund would come at the expense of planned Federal support for 4G LTE wireless services in unserved areas of the U.S.

He said at least $1 billion of the total proposed funding would go for deployments that facilitate precision agriculture applications.

“5G has the potential to bring many benefits to American consumers and businesses, including wireless networks that are more responsive, more secure, and up to 100 times faster than today’s 4G LTE networks,” Chairman Pai said. “We want to make sure that rural Americans enjoy these benefits, just as residents of large urban areas will. In order to do that, the Universal Service Fund must be forward-looking and support the networks of tomorrow,” he said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.