The Federal Communications Commission Jan. 10 released a final rule updating the Rural Health Care program, which offers discounted rates for rural broadband and other communications services to support virtual health care services. The rule allows health care providers conditionally eligible for the program to apply for future funding; updates “standard urban distance” definitions for computing urban rates; and provides more flexible deadlines to request changes to evergreen contract dates.

In a separate proposed rule, FCC Jan. 10 proposed ways to expedite and remove barriers to establishing next generation broadband networks, including utility pole reforms and proposals to speed copper network retirement. The agency will accept comments on the proposed rule through Feb. 13.

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