More than $32 million in funding to provide new broadband access to more than 42,000 unserved homes and businesses in Puerto Rico, Hawaii and Alaska has been authorized by the Federal Communications Commission through the Connect America Fund (CAF).

The CAF is part of the FCC’s initiative to bring broadband access to rural communities.

The $32 million authorized last week represents a jump-start to bring broadband to these areas and is the first in a series of authorizations designed to extend broadband connectivity to as many as 600,000 households and businesses in 44 states and one territory in the near future.

The FCC said this funding will help connect about 100,000 people who currently lack service.

Specifics about the authorization are as follows:

• Puerto Rico (territory-wide): $31.6 million to reach 40,736 homes and businesses

• Hawaii (Hawaii County): $1 million to reach 1,317 homes and businesses

• Alaska (Yukon-Koyukuk Borough): $174,000 to reach 316 homes and businesses

The FCC has several maps available highlighting these and other proposed projects. View maps.

Acting FCC Chair Mignon Clyburn said broadband is essential in today’s society and is poised to deliver tremendous benefits to rural America; eliminating the need to travel long distances for educational opportunities, to access quality health care, and to tap global markets.

“I’m delighted we can provide an infusion of funds to connect communities in Alaska, Puerto Rico and Hawaii to jobs and other opportunities as we work with our partners in the private sector to build out broadband networks that will reach all Americans,” Clyburn added.

The FCC notes that about 15 million Americans, mostly in rural areas, lack access to fixed broadband.