Roughly 10% of the U.S., mostly in remote rural areas, is eligible to take advantage of $100 million the Federal Communications Commission is allocating for improvements in rural broadband service. The project gets its money from the FCC’s $4.5 billion Connect America Fund. The commission is providing bidding incentives for proposals that exclusively serve tribal lands.
The FCC this week released a list of the U.S. Census blocks—roughly the size of a city block [half are smaller than than a tenth of a square mile, while the largest is greater than 8,500 square miles]—that would qualify for a piece of the $100 million fund the agency created earlier this month. The objective is to get broadband service to unserved and under-served populations, which are primarily rural. The commission’s map of the eligible areas has been updated with more detailed views.
Seventy-five million is dedicated for testing the construction of networks that provide 25 Mbps down and 5 up, and another $15 million will go “to test interest in delivering service at 10:1 speeds in high cost-areas,” defined as those where the monthly cost per location of providing service is between $52.50 and $207.81. The third set of funds comprises $10 million for 10/1 service “in areas that are extremely costly to serve,” or those where service of at least 3 Mbps up and 768 kbps down is unavailable, and that would exceed $207.81 monthly.
More than 1,000 entities have expressed interest in the projects, including utilities, wireless operators, and CLEC affiliates of local telcos, according to the FCC.
The Utilities Telecom Council Inc. applauded the FCC for including utilities.
“By encouraging utilities and others to provide broadband that is robust, affordable and reliable, the FCC is creating new opportunities to promote economic growth and expanded access to health and safety, education, and essential services in our rural communities,” said Connie Durcsak, President and CEO of UTC, in a statement.
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