Nineteen million Americans living in rural areas currently do not have access to robust broadband infrastructure.
The FCC is transforming the existing Universal Service Fund into the new Connect America Fund to focus on broadband, and last week unveiled a new map showing where millions will be spent in the first phase of the reform.
Broadband has gone from being a luxury to a necessity for full participation in our economy and society – for all Americans. For that reason, the FCC has adopted comprehensive reforms of its Universal Service Fund (USF) and Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) systems to accelerate broadband build-outs to Americans in rural areas.
This reform will expand the benefits of high-speed Internet to millions of consumers in every part of the country by transforming the existing USF into a new Connect America Fund (CAF) focused on broadband, the FCC said. Consumers everywhere – both urban and rural – will benefit and will not only drive economic growth in rural America, but will expand the online marketplace nationwide – creating jobs and businesses opportunities across the country.
The FCC released the map on Thursday showing where the $115 million in FCC Universal Service Fund/Connect America Fund broadband funding is planning to go in Phase 1 of its migration of phone subsidies to rural broadband rollouts.
Thirteen states are not receiving funding: Kansas, Arkansas, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, New Jersey, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island.
Wisconsin received the most out of any state with more than $38 million.
The map provides a state-by-state breakdown of how much support each is getting and how many counties and census blocks are being served, and the state’s total unserved population, defined as not getting at least 3 Mbps downstream, 768 Kbps upstream (the FCC’s current definition of high-speed broadband).
In North Carolina
According to the CAF Map, the total locations receiving support in North Carolina during Phase 1 is 1,390 with total CAF support noted at $1,077,175.
The number of counties that will be supported is 13 among 279 census blocks.
The total estimated population for unserved citizens is 296,628.
Three carriers last week accepted part of the funding they were offered.
FairPoint, which is based in Charlotte, accepted $2 million of the $4.8 million it was allotted,
CenturyLink accepted $35 million of the $90 million it was offered.
Windstream accepted $653,000 of the $60.4 million it was offered.
Frontier previously agreed to accept the entire $72 million it was offered.
CenturyLink, Windstream and Frontier offer services in parts of North Carolina.
These funds have to be used to build out broadband to unserved areas within three years.
“As our new map demonstrates, millions of Americans still live, work, and travel in rural areas where access to high-speed Internet does not exist,” said FCC chairman Julius Genachowski in a statement. “Through the FCC’s Connect America Fund initiatives, we’re helping complete our nation’s broadband infrastructure, which will lead to job creation, economic growth, and innovation in the 21st century. The map is the latest example of how the agency can use mapping technology to spur innovation and to develop new products for the public.”
The FCC’s goal for Connect America is to connect 7 million unserved within six years with the overarching goal to connect 19 million unserved rural residents by 2020.
The FCC launched this unprecedented broadband expansion last year when it reformed and modernized the Universal Service Fund, which connected rural America to the telephone network in the 20th century. The commission created the CAF to unleash the benefits of broadband for all Americans in the 21st century.
In the first phase, about $115 million of public funding will be coupled with tens of millions more in private investment to quickly expand broadband infrastructure to rural communities in every region of the nation.
Ten of the nation’s largest carriers were invited to participate in the program, which will pay carriers $775 per broadband line deployed to an unserved home within its territory up to a specific dollar level, which varies from one carrier to another. Seven of the 10 carriers were offered allotments exceeding $1 million.
Two of those carriers – AT&T and Verizon – declined all of the funding they had been offered.
AT&T said it could not commit to participate in the program at this time. Verizon did not cite a specific reason for the decision except that the amount of money involved was “relatively small.”
Meanwhile, Alaska Communications Systems also accepted its entire allotment – approximately $4.2 million.
In total, 37 states will be impacted by the first phase deployment of the new CAF, according to the map.