The locations of the up to 600,000 homes and businesses nationwide targeted to get broadband for the first time through the FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF) are now available on a new interactive map.
Last month, the FCC announced that providers in 44 states and Puerto Rico had requested more than $385 million from the CAF, which will be matched with hundreds of millions of their own dollars in many areas to expand broadband infrastructure to rural communities in every region of the nation.
The new FCC map zeroes in on these locations down to the census block level and zooms out for a big-picture overview of this major broadband expansion at the county, state and national levels.
“The FCC’s new map will provide welcome news to millions of rural Americans who have been waiting far too long for broadband access,” said acting FCC Chair Mignon Clyburn.
Broadband expansion in these locations is the result of a second round of funding from Phase I of the CAF.
The FCC transformed the previously-existing Universal Service Fund and Intercarrier Compensation systems into the CAF last year to accelerate broadband build-outs to Americans in rural areas where there are insufficient market incentives to expand the level of service absent a joint public-private effort.
In North Carolina, according to FCC documents, 35,472 total locations were noted with approximately $20,950,161 in total dollar support for in this next round of the CAF.
Some of the carriers acceptances are contingent upon carriers prevailing in challenges regarding whether certain census blocks are unserved, the FCC added in the documentation. Furthermore, it explained, after providing the commission with notice, carriers have the ability to alter deployment plans to other unserved census blocks, which could result in more or less funding being allocated to any given state.
The carriers listed in the documentation included ACS, AT&T, CenturyLink, FairPoint, Frontier, Hawaiian, PRTC, and Windstream.
Phase I of the CAF is designed to quickly expand broadband to unserved areas while broader structural reforms are being implemented. Building on lessons learned from the first round of Phase I funding, the second round will distribute up to $385 million in funding requested by carriers.
Key reforms allow the initiative to expand support to both broadband and voice without increasing universal service fees on consumers and businesses, the FCC said. These reforms include barring subsidies in areas that already have broadband provided by an unsubsidized competitor.
The new map facilitates identification of these areas, where competitors may wish to file challenges to requested Phase I subsidies. As a result of this challenge process, the locations currently depicted on the map could change.
The map complements other maps created by the FCC’s geospatial team showing nationwide broadband availability, the first round of Connect America Phase I, mobile broadband expansions through the FCC’s $300 million Mobility Fund auction, areas eligible for the Tribal Mobility Fund, and more.
In other FCC news this week, the Senate Commerce Committee will hold a hearing Wednesday on the nominees to the FCC and Federal Trade Commission.
Michael O’Rielly, a staffer to Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), is expected to fill the second Republican spot on the FCC. The Republican nominee would succeed Robert McDowell, who resigned in April.
FCC Chairman-nominee Tom Wheeler has previously been passed by the committee and now awaits a vote from the full senate. If confirmed, Wheeler would succeed Julius Genachowski, who resigned in May after nearly four years. Commissioner Clyburn has been serving as acting chair in the interim.