Expanded broadband subsidies for rural health proposed (US)

Part of the much-touted ‘National Broadband Plan’ to subsidize internet access for rural healthcare facilities, considered to be key to telehealth and mobile health, has run across an unexpected snag–underutilization.  The $400 million set aside would, under new proposed regulations, pay for 50% of monthly access fees rather than the existing 25%; even with the subsidy, the cost of broadband is still high. In the proposed plan, it would also pay for up to 85% of the costs in building out access lines in rural areas to connect not only doctors and hospitals, but also acute care facilities, dialysis centers, off-site administrative offices and data centers that support healthcare.  If adopted as part of an overhaul of the Universal Service Fund, the FCC could begin issuing funds as soon as June of next year.  GigaOM, ABC News.