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Rural Broadband Efforts

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently identified locations of about a million small businesses and homes in forty-eight states that are eligible to get as much as two billion dollars in support for the deployment of broadband in the coming years. The Connect America Fund (CAF) of FCC is planning to distribute about two billion dollars in support to businesses that compete in a CAF II auction aimed at deploying broadband at cheap costs in the underserved rural areas of the nation.

In 2015, the FCC authorized ten telecom carriers, which include Frontier Communications, CenturyLink®, and FairPoint to get about nine billion dollars in CAF II funding over a period of six years. Combined together with the own investments of the carrier, the FCC funding was planned to expand broadband to about 7.3 million rural users in forty five states and a US territory. Frontier recently said that they are continuing their broadband surge into the rural areas, exceeding the 2017 CAP milestone requirements in about eight states.

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The CAF rule needs businesses that have accepted the funds for broadband deployment to about forty percent of all the eligible locations by the end of the year 2017. The company also said that the newly announced states now join Connecticut, Montana, Arizona, Georgia, Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia, Washington, and North Carolina as having touched the milestone of forty percent.

“Closing the digital divide is my No. 1 priority, and through this innovative Connect America Fund auction, we are poised to take the next big step in reaching that goal,” said FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai. “In rural America, broadband opens the doors of opportunity by connecting remote communities to global markets, jobs, education, health care and information.”

It is reported that the service seeks to expand the broadband service to census blocks that are un-served by broadband service providers delivering speeds of 10 Mbps downloads and 1 Mbps uploads. The CAF auction is set to launch in the year 2018. Since the year 2011, the FCC has targeted more than nine billion dollars via the Connect America Fund in support of the broadband expansion to more than four million small businesses and homes in rural areas.