WASHINGTON, January 26, 2017 - In his first substantive action since being named to his position on Tuesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced approval of the petition by New York State's broadband program to access the Connect America Fund. The agency's full press release is below:
FCC VOTES TO EXPAND BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT IN NEW YORK
FCC Takes Quick Action Following the Transition to Address the Digital Divide
In its first action under Chairman Ajit Pai, the FCC today voted to provide up to $170 million from the Connect America Fund to expand broadband deployment in unserved rural areas of New York State.
The $170 million in federal funding will be coupled with at least $200 million in state funding and private investment to jump-start broadband deployment and close the digital divide in these unserved areas more quickly. This partnership with the state program will also result in more efficient and effective use of both state and federal funding.
“Broadband is critical to economic opportunity and job creation,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “This is a first step of many to fulfill my promise to empower Americans with online opportunities, no matter who they are and no matter where they live.”
The Order adopted by the FCC today will authorize Connect America Phase II support in areas where applicants are selected through New York’s competitive New NY Broadband Program, subject to specified conditions to ensure broad participation and ongoing oversight. The funding that will be made available was declined by Verizon in 2015.
The FCC in 2011 modernized its universal service program supporting rural voice service by creating the Connect America Fund to efficiently and effectively support expansion of rural broadband. The funds are targeted to rural areas where the private sector is unable to make a business case to provide broadband service, absent these subsidies. The Commission continues to work on implementing a nationwide auction to award support for broadband deployment in other rural areas of the country.
Overall, the FCC’s Universal Service Fund allocates $4.5 billion annually through various universal service programs for high-cost areas to support voice- and broadband-capable networks in rural America.