The FCC has authorized a total of $1.488 billion for broadband expansion
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken further steps to close the digital divide with the authorization of more than $4.9 billion in support over the next decade for maintaining expanding affordable rural broadband for 455,334 homes and businesses served by 171 carriers in 39 states and American Samoa, including 44,243 locations on Tribal lands.
The homes and businesses receiving funding are located in rural areas where the per-location price of deployment and ongoing costs of providing broadband service are high.
To address the significant gaps in national broadband coverage, the FCC established the Digital Opportunity Data Collection, which will collect geospatial broadband coverage maps from fixed broadband Internet service providers of areas where they make fixed service available.
The recently announced funding represents the latest wave of support from last year’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction, which allocated a total of $1.488 billion to expand broadband to more than 700,000 rural homes and small businesses over the next 10 years.
The smaller rural carriers, traditionally known as “rate-of-return” that the support is targeting have agreed to accept subsidies based on the FCC’s Alternative Connect America Cost Model, or A-CAM, which provides predictability, rewards efficiency and provides more value for each taxpayer dollar.
In return for the support being provided by the FCC, carriers must maintain, improve and expand broadband throughout their service areas. This included providing service of at least 25 Megabits per second downstream and 3 Mbps upstream to over 363,000 locations, including more than 37,000 locations on Tribal lands.
“Our action today will help close the digital divide and is a win-win for rural Americans and taxpayers,” 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.”
The previous wave of funding was announced a few weeks ago and allocated more than $121 million in funding over the next decade to expand broadband to 36,579 unserved rural homes and businesses in 16 states, as well as roughly $16.2 million to 8,088 rural New York homes and businesses.
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