Alaska Communications has accepted about $19.7 million per year for 10 years in funding from the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) program to bring broadband to 31,500 locations in Alaska, a large majority of which don’t have service today.
Of these locations, Alaska Communications estimated that between 25,000 and 26,000 locations are currently unserved and the telco will be able to equip these users with 10/1 Mbps in rural locations in Alaska approved by the FCC.
While CAF-II funding will support expanded broadband capability to rural communities along Alaska's highway system, it does not address what Alaska Communications said are “significant middle mile needs” to deploy affordable broadband in Alaska Bush communities that are not accessible by road.
The Alaska Communications CAF-II order is the only CAF order for Alaska that establishes broadband obligations for a specific number of customer locations. Now that Alaska Communications has accepted the CAF-II funding, the next step in the process is for Alaska Communications to develop a buildout plan for the deployment of these new broadband services over the next 10 years.
Alaska Communications joins 10 other telcos, including AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier and Windstream, in accepting CAF-II funds, an FCC reform initiative that promises to bring broadband to an estimated 23 million Americans in rural, currently uncovered areas.
The CAF-II funding requirements to bring broadband to rural areas is somewhat controversial since the FCC raised the buildout requirements from 4/1 Mbps to 10/1 Mbps. This has raised concern as the FCC also changed the earmark for what constitutes broadband to 25/3 Mbps in 2015.