The Federal Communications Commission has authorized the largest amount yet for rural broadband expansion funded by the Connect America Fund II auction: $524 million, which will be spent on projects over the next decade to connect more than 200,000 unserved rural homes and businesses in 23 states.
The auction last fall allocated $1.488 billion for rural broadband expansion to more than 700,000 locations in the next decade, and this is the third wave of authorized funding. The FCC previously approved funding in May and June for projects impacting 100,000 homes and businesses, and has so far authorized nearly $803 million out of the total $1.488 billion.
Providers will start receiving funding this month, the FCC said. Projects authorized in this third wave include:
-$82.6 million to California Internet over 10 years, to provide service to nearly 11,000 locations in California.
-$35.3 million to Nextlink (AMG Technology Investment Group) over 10 years, to provide broadband speeds of 100 Mbps download/20 Mbps upload to about 10,200 locations in Illinois.
-In Iowa, $50.6 million over 10 years to Nextlink to serve nearly 7,700 locations.
-$75.8 million to Nextlink, to serve nearly 18,700 locations in Texas.
-$27.3 million to Michigan Crystal Automation Systems to serve about 17,500 locations.
The full list of authorized projects is available here.
“Today’s authorization of funding is the largest yet from the auction, nearly double the amount authorized in the first two rounds nationwide, and serving over twice as many rural homes and businesses,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in a statement, adding that he is “pleased that the Commission is moving quickly to authorize these funds to close the digital divide in rural America.”
Pai has made closing the urban/rural digital divide a focus of the commission’s efforts, and recently proposed even more funding for broadband expansion: a new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund that would provide at least $20.4 billion in funding over 10 years. The FCC is expected to vote on launching a rulemaking to establish the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund on August 1.
The FCC said that it will be authorizing additional funding in the coming months, as it works through approving the remaining applications of the winning bidders from the auction.
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