FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai says that in order to enable rural telcos to deliver a compelling broadband-only option to consumers and businesses, the regulator needs to make changes to the USF rules regarding financial assistance to build networks that support these services.
AT&T has joined fellow Tier 1 telco CenturyLink, Consolidated Communications and others in accepting $427 million annually in phase two of the FCC Connect America Fund (CAF-II) program, allowing it reach 2.2 million rural locations in 18 of the 21 states in its operating territory with broadband services.
Hawaiian Telcom will take $26 million in the FCC's Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) funding to extend 10/1 Mbps capable broadband service to over 11,000 unserved rural locations. With a focus on neighbor islands in Hawaii, the telco is now working on a deployment timeline for the six-year period, beginning in 2015 through 2020.
Frontier has set an aggressive timeline to expand broadband to 750,000 more households throughout its service footprint by the year 2020. Dan McCarthy, president and CEO of Frontier, said in an FCC filing that this commitment will include the wireline properties it is in the process of buying from Verizon in California, Florida and Texas.
The U.S. Dept. of Agriculture has put forward an additional $85 million in funding that it says is dedicated to increasing broadband Internet access in seven states. This funding consists of $74.8 million in telecom loans and $11 million in Community Connect grants.
AT&T's $49 billion acquisition of DirecTV may have gotten the green light from FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, but in giving his support he has asked the telco to stick to its word on its FTTH expansion and not discriminate against online video competitors like Netflix whose applications run over its broadband network.
Frontier Communications said in an FCC filing that it is on track with the broadband expansions it promised to make when it purchased Verizon's rural assets in 2010 and AT&T's Connecticut wireline assets in 2014.
Hawaiian Telcom in June became the latest in a string of telcos to introduce a 1 Gbps service. And like its fellow mainland telcos such as CenturyLink it, too, is seeing the phones ring for all of its broadband service tiers.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said that the continuing declining costs for equipment will make it easier for service providers of all sizes to expand the availability of broadband to more homes and businesses.
A group of 35 mayors and city officials from various states have sent a letter to the FCC asking the regulator to create a uniform and accessible reporting structure on service provider broadband performance.