FCC funding will provide mid- and long-term support to deploy fast, resilient and reliable networks
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved $950 million in funding to improve, expand and harden communications networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands after communications infrastructure on the islands was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria.
Following the devastation two years ago, the FCC created the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and the Connect USVI Fund, and to date, has provided about $130 million in additional, one-time Universal Service Fund support to assist with network restoration.
This most recent stage of funding will provide mid- and long-term support to deploy fast, resilient and reliable networks that will stand the test of time.
The approved $950 million in funding is allocated as follows: In Puerto Rice, more than $500 million over 10 years will go to fixed broadband support and more than $250 million over three years to mobile broadband support; and in the U.S. Virgin Islands, more than $180 million over 10 years will go towards support for fixed networks, and $4 million over three years towards mobile networks.
Fixed broadband support will be awarded through a competitive process, and providers’ applications will be scored based price per location served, network performance and network resiliency and redundancy. The providers will bid to serve every location in each covered area with up to gigabit speeds.
Support for mobile services will be awarded to providers that were offering mobile services in the selected locations prior to the hurricanes in order to expand and harden 4G LTE networks and deploy next-generation 5G networks.
At the beginning of September, FCC Chair Ajit Pai spoke about the need to provide additional broadband and mobile services funding to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands: “It is time to authorize long-term funding to ensure that everyone in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands has access to the same high-speed fixed and mobile broadband networks as other Americans. And at the same time, we must storm-harden those communications networks so they can withstand the future hurricanes that will undoubtedly come. ”
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