WASHINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) – The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday authorized nearly $305.5 million in support in Texas during the next decade for maintaining, improving and expanding affordable broadband for 23,424 rural homes and businesses.

The authorization in Texas was part of a nationwide authorization of over $4.9 billion in support during the next decade for 455,334 homes and businesses served by 171 carriers in 39 states and American Samoa, including 44,243 locations on Tribal lands.

The support is targeted to smaller rural carriers, traditionally known as “rate-of-return” carriers.

Network cables are plugged in a server room. (Photo by Michael Bocchieri/Getty Images)

The homes and businesses are in sparsely populated rural areas.

In return for the funding, carriers must maintain, improve and expand broadband throughout their service areas, including providing service of at least 25 Megabits per second downstream and 3 Mbps upstream to over 363,000 locations nationwide, including more than 37,000 locations on Tribal lands.

The FCC said providers will be held accountable through an enforceable schedule for delivering improved and expanded service, with the first interim deployment obligation occurring in 2022.

“Our action today will help close the digital divide and is a win-win for rural Americans and taxpayers, including over 23,400 homes and small businesses in Texas,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Carriers get the predictable support they need to deliver broadband to their customers in these high-cost rural areas. And taxpayers, who fund this support through a fee on their phone bills, are getting more bang for their buck.”