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FCC Authorizes $121 Million in Rural Broadband Funding from Connect America Fund

Emily McPhie

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Photo of Wyoming's Wind River Reservation by USFWS Mountain-Prairie

WASHINGTON, August 12, 2019 — The Federal Communications Commission on Monday authorized over $121 million in rural broadband funding, marking the fourth wave of support from last year’s Connect America Fund Phase II Auction.

The funding is expected to bring broadband access to more than 36,000 unserved rural homes and businesses across 16 states. Providers will begin receiving funding later in August.

“As we continue to authorize funds to expand broadband in rural America, I am excited to see the benefits for rural residents who live all across the country, from Tribal lands in Wyoming to mountain communities in Appalachia, from the Great Plains to the Pacific Northwest, and from the Texas Panhandle to northern Minnesota,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “This round of funding is yet another step toward closing the digital divide.”

In total, the Connect America Fund Phase II Auction allocated $1.488 billion in support to expand broadband to more than 700,000 unserved rural homes and small businesses over the next 10 years.

The fourth wave of funding will benefit several previously unserved areas.

  • 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.

Providers must build out to 40% of the assigned homes and businesses in the areas won in a state within three years. Buildout must increase by 20% in each subsequent year, until complete buildout is reached at the end of the sixth year.

The auction is a part of the FCC’s ongoing efforts to close the digital divide in rural America. On August 1, the agency established the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which would direct up to $20.4 billion to expand broadband in unserved rural areas.

 

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