The Federal Communications Commission has made a number of Connect America Fund (CAF) awards. Ten carriers have accepted USD 1.5 billion in annual support for rural broadband deployment, which, together with the carrier’s own investment, will expand broadband to nearly 7.3 million rural consumers in 45 states nationwide and one US territory over the next few years. The FCC said 27 August was the final day for the carriers to decide whether to accept the offer of support from Phase II of the Connect America Fund. Most of the ten carriers are major national carriers, and their acceptance will infuse over USD 9 billion into rural broadband over the next six years.
Specifically, CenturyLink accepted USD 505.7 million in annual, ongoing support to expand and support broadband for over 2.3 million of its rural customers nationwide and to bring broadband speeds of at least 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up to nearly 1.2 million homes and businesses in its rural service areas where the cost of broadband deployment might otherwise be prohibitive.
AT&T accepted USD 427.7 million in annual, ongoing support for over 2.2 million of its rural customers. The operator will also seek to bring speeds of at least 10/1 Mbps to over 1.1 million homes and businesses in its rural service areas where the cost of broadband deployment might otherwise be prohibitive.
Cincinnati Bell accepted USD 2.2 million for over 14,000 of its rural customers.and to bring 10/1 Mbps for 7000 homes and businesses in particularly underserved areas.
Consolidated has accepted USD13.9 million for nearly 50,000 of its rural customers and to bring 10/1 Mbps to nearly 25,000 particularly underserved homes and businesses in its rural service areas.
The CAF is designed to close the rural-urban digital divide, providing subsidies where the cost of service would otherwise be too expensive. According to the FCC’s latest Broadband Progress Report, nearly one in three rural US inhabitants lack access to 10/1 broadband, compared to only one in 100 urbanites. Over the next six years, Phase II of Connect America will provide more than USD 10 billion to expand broadband-capable networks throughout rural America nationwide. Carriers receiving support from the fund will have to build out broadband to 40 percent of funded locations by the end 2017, 60 percent by the end of 2018, 80 percent by the end of 2019, and 100 percent by the end of 2020.