FCC Acts to Improve Rural Broadband Service with $100M Fund- Census Blocks Released

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.

Read more at:

http://www.tvtechnology.com/news/0086/rural-broadband-areas-defined-for-fcc–million-experiment-fund/271527

http://www.lightreading.com/regulation/fcc-commits-$100m-to-rural-experiments/d/d-id/709930

0 thoughts on “FCC Acts to Improve Rural Broadband Service with $100M Fund- Census Blocks Released

  1. Alan, thanks for reporting on this while I was traveling the rural Southwest, where, as the map you linked to indicates, many of these rural areas exist. Interestingly, there are several locations in the county of Santa Clara, home to Silicon Valley, that are unserved and potentially eligible to receive support.

    Some observations from reading the original FCC document a few weeks back.

    There seemed to be an incentive to carriers to serve areas that might be underserved, but would not qualify for support under the proposed rules.

    “Moreover, this approach provides an opportunity for entities to engage in an incremental expansion into neighboring areas, allowing parties to leverage economies of scale to provide broadband in an efficient manner that benefits consumers.”

    The census block level makes sense in that people in an a particular area know that area the best. Perhaps this could be a driver towards more locally managed providers.

    “Finally, allowing rural broadband experiment proposals on the census block level will help us determine whether the census block approach that the Commission proposed to use for the Phase II competitive bidding process is administratively feasible and straightforward for both Commission staff and applicants.”

    Lastly, it was either point 53 or on page 53, the FCC emphasized that cybersecurity has to be part of the plan submitted by the applicant. .

  2. As I look a little closer, it looks like the Census Tract 06085511800 is in the Redwood Estates area (between San Jose and Santa Cruz – really part of Silicon Valley) and it has 350 locations that are “Price Cap Between” and 41 locations that are “Price Cap Above” out of a total of approximately 3,700 people.From an income level, this isn’t a typical rural area as indicated by the low poverty rate (3%).

    http://gis.oshpd.ca.gov/atlas/places/tract/06085511800

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