FCC's latest inquiry: broadband for rural healthcare

Cable operators who are already seeing the benefits (for themselves and end users) of broadband and health networks will probably want to tell the FCC a thing or two about to go about expanding the business into the nation's rural areas. The opportunity's available as the federal agency, as part of its ongoing effort to reform broadband, is seeking comments on whether and how much to fund broadband rural health care in 2011.

The FCC would like to create an infrastructure to support as much as 85 percent of construction costs for upgraded regional or statewide broadband healthcare networks, reimburse 50 percent of monthly recurring costs of broadband access for eligible rural healthcare providers, and (this is an important one) expand the definition of eligible healthcare provider to include such facilities as administrative offices, data centers, nursing facilities and renal dialysis centers. And it wants to know what the public thinks.

Of course, the agency would like to know how it should prioritize funding requests for broadband-assisted rural health care.

For more:
- see this notice of proposed rulemaking

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