The Federal Communications Commission yesterday announced that rural health care groups are set to receive $417 million in grants to build high-speed Internet networks connecting clinics to medical resources in urban areas, according to The Washington Post.

Focusing on expanding broadband communication lines, and in many cases upgrading from dial-up connections, the three-year pilot project will include about 6,000 rural hospitals, research centers, universities and clinics. The campaign, made possible with money allocated for telehealth services from the universal service fund, will allow rural care providers to upload patient records or send medical images to physicians at other facilities.

FCC Chair Kevin Martin told The Washington Post that the program will "play a critical role in the way technology will transform health care. … Not only will a telehealth network connect doctors to patients who have never had access to medical treatment, but they can have access to the top resources on the other side of the country."

The universal service fund, collected from long-distance and wireless service subscribers, subsidizes phone and Internet services to educational institutions and libraries, and low-income people in rural areas, according to the newspaper.