FCC Okays $121M for Rural Broadband

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The FCC on Monday authorized over $121 million in funding over the next decade to expand broadband in 16 states. Providers will begin receiving the money later this month. Separately, the agency approved similar funding for upstate New York (see story here.)  

The money is the fourth wave of support from last year’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction that allocated $1.488 billion in support to expand broadband to more than 700,000 unserved rural homes and small businesses. 

Monday’s action brings the total authorized funding to over $924 million. Additional rounds will be authorized in the coming months.

“This round of funding is yet another step toward closing the digital divide, providing access to digital opportunity to over 36,000 more unserved rural homes and businesses,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. Providers must build out to 40 percent of the assigned homes and businesses in the areas they won in a state within three years. Buildout must increase by 20 percent in each subsequent year, until complete buildout is reached at the end of the sixth year. 

Approved funding applications include the following:

  • Northern Arapaho Tribal Industries, which is owned by the Northern Arapaho Tribe, is receiving $4.1 million to deploy service to 849 homes and businesses on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, all of which will get access to service delivering Gigabit speeds
  • Tri-Co Connections is receiving $32.3 million to deploy Gigabit service to over 7,015 homes and businesses in rural Pennsylvania over its fiber network
  • Midcontinent Communications is receiving $39 million to deploy service to 9,371 homes and businesses in rural Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota, all of which will get service delivering speeds of at least 100 Mbps downstream/20 Mbps upstream
  • Citynet West Virginia will receive $6.5 million over the next decade to deliver Gigabit service over its fiber network to 898 homes and businesses in rural West Virginia

The Connect America Fund Phase II auction is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America. On August 1, the FCC proposed taking its biggest single step to date toward closing the rural digital divide by establishing the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which would direct up to $20.4 billion to expand broadband in unserved rural areas, Inside Towers reported.

August 13, 2019

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