The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has pledged to extend broadband connectivity to up to 600,000 US homes and small businesses that currently lack high-speed internet access, as part of its ongoing Connect America Fund (CAF) programme. Providers in a total of 44 US states, and also the unincorporated territory of Puerto Rico, have requested over USD386 million from the CAF, which will be matched with hundreds of millions of their own dollars as they bid to bridge the rural divide. All CAF-backed deployments must be completed within three years.
Acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn commented: ‘Broadband is no longer a luxury but is essential in today’s society to finding a job, getting an education, receiving quality health care, and staying connected with family and community. This second round of support from the Connect America Fund will leverage private investment and connect hundreds of thousands of rural consumers and businesses to the robust broadband that other communities have long taken for granted’.
In 2012, providers accepted nearly USD115 million in Phase 1 funding, covering 37 states. In May of this year, the FCC allocated a further USD300 million for the second round of Phase 1, with additional funding expected to be made available if demand exceeded that amount.