By Kyle Daly

Federal Communications Commission chief Ajit Pai wants to deliver more than half a billion dollars in new funding to foster building broadband in rural areas, the agency said today.

Pai has circulated a proposal to his fellow commissioners to open up more than $500 million in funding to support network build-out by cooperatives and small rural broadband providers, the FCC said in a statement. The order would also update certain rules for the FCC’s high-cost universal service program aimed at improving effectiveness and efficiency. One proposed update would offer greater funding for broadband on tribal lands, already a component of several FCC universal service programs.

“We need more deployment in sparsely populated rural areas if we’re going to extend digital opportunity to all Americans,” Pai said in a statement. “With the $500 million in new funding provided by this order, we’ll boost broadband deployment in rural America and put our high-cost system on a more efficient path.”