The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) this week identified the locations of nearly 1 million homes and small businesses in 48 states that are eligible for as much as $2 billion in support for broadband deployment during the next decade.
The FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF) is preparing to distribute as much as $2 billion in support to companies that successfully compete in a CAF II auction to deploy broadband at the lowest cost in these unserved rural areas across the country.
The FCC in 2015 authorized 10 telecom carriers – including CenturyLink, Frontier Communications and FairPoint – to receive nearly $9 billion in CAF II funding over six years. Combined with the carriers’ own investments, the funding was to expand broadband to nearly 7.3 million rural customers in 45 states and one U.S. territory.
This week, Frontier said it is continuing its rural broadband surge, exceeding 2017 CAP milestone requirements in eight additional states. The rules associated with CAF require companies that accepted the funds to deploy broadband to 40 percent of the eligible locations by the end of 2017. The newly announced states join Arizona, Connecticut, Georgia, Montana, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington and West Virginia as having reached the 40 percent milestone, the company said.
“Closing the digital divide is my No. 1 priority, and through this innovative Connect America Fund auction, we are poised to take the next big step in reaching that goal,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “In rural America, broadband opens the doors of opportunity by connecting remote communities to global markets, jobs, education, health care and information.”
The auction seeks to expand service to census blocks unserved by broadband delivering speeds of 10 Mbps downloads/1 Mbps uploads. The auction is set to launch in 2018.
Since 2011, the FCC has targeted more than $9 billion through CAF in support for rural broadband expansion to more than 4 million homes and small businesses.