FCC launches $89.2m rural broadband fund

FCC launches $89.2m rural broadband fund

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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has authorised almost $89.2 million in funding over the next ten years to expand broadband to rural homes and businesses.

This latest funding will deliver broadband connectivity to more 123,000 unserved rural homes and businesses across 21 states. It marks the eighth round of investment following on from the Connect America Fund Phase II auction that launched in 2018.

“Across the nation, we’re continuing to close the digital divide so that all Americans, no matter where they live, have access to affordable broadband connectivity and the digital opportunity it brings,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai. “And as this eighth round of funding demonstrates, the Connect America Fund Phase II Auction is doing so in a cost-effective way because providers competed for Connect America Fund Auction support, finite universal service dollars reached many more homes and businesses at a much lower cost.”

Viasat has been named as one of the main companies approved for funding and is due to receive $87.1 million over the next ten years to offer more than 121,700 remote, rural homes and business in 17 states speeds of at least 25Mbps. In exchange for this funding, Viasat will provide this service in these areas at a lower cost to consumers while also allowing higher usage allowances.

Under the terms of the deal, providers must build out 40% of the assigned homes and businesses in the areas won in a state within three years. Additionally, buildout must increase by 20% in each subsequent year until buildout is complete by the end of the sixth year.

The Connect America Fund auction last year allocated $1.488 billion to expand broadband to more than 700,000 unserved rural homes and small businesses across the US. Now in its eight wave of funding and including this recent announcement brings the FCC’s total investment to almost $1.2 billion.

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