Over 106,000 rural homes and small businesses in 43 states will get access to improved broadband service due to recent Federal Communications Commission reforms to the Universal Service Fund, including Minnesota.

"Today's announcement means that many more rural Americans will have access to high-speed broadband service that will enable them to fully participate in the digital economy-entrepreneurship, telemedicine, precision agriculture, online education, and more," stated FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a news release Monday, April 29. "This is yet another example of how the FCC is working hard to close the digital divide."

Pursuant to new rules adopted by the commission last December, a total of 186 companies participating in the FCC's Alternative Connect America Cost Model program accepted $65.7 million in additional annual support over the next decade. In return, these carriers have committed to deploying 25/3 megabits per second service, relating to internet speed, to 106,365 homes and small businesses that would have otherwise only received slower 10/1 Mbps service.

The boost represents a 31.8% increase in the number of locations that will have faster service available through the Alternative Connect America Cost Model program. Carriers must deploy 25/3 Mbps service to 40% of locations by the end of 2022, and increase deployment by 10% annually until buildout is complete at the end of 2028.

In Minnesota, the additional funding is expected to increase the number of homes receiving 25/3 Mbps service by more than 11,000 homes, or 26.3 percent.