Charter Business customers in Wisconsin and Oregon are receiving benefits from a pilot program for rural health care that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposes to make permanent and expand nationally in the years ahead. A proposal introduced by the FCC last week would make permanent the Rural Health Care Pilot Program, currently set to expire next year, and expand broadband investment for medically underserved communities across the country.

Through the Rural Health Care Pilot Program, Charter Business provides fiber-based broadband services to health care organizations in Wisconsin and Oregon. The program is designed to develop support for the deployment of a broadband nationwide health care network, focusing on rural areas of the country where support is needed the most.

The FCC on July 15 proposed rules to enable the FCC to spend up to $400 million annually from a portion of the federal Universal Service Fund that it administers. According to the FCC, the new funding would bring affordable broadband connectivity to more than 2,000 rural hospitals and clinics. Approval of new rules is subject to a public comment period and further action by the FCC. The effort to enhance the pilot program is among the recommendations of the National Broadband Plan, released by the FCC in March 2010.

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