AT&T, Frontier, other telcos' rural broadband boosted by $255M in CAF-I grants

The FCC has allocated a total of $255 million in grants from its Connect America Fund Phase I (CAF-I), enabling five telcos to deliver broadband access to over 400,000 rural homes and businesses in 41 states.

AT&T (NYSE: T), CenturyLink (NYSE: CTL), FairPoint Communications (Nasdaq: FRP), Frontier Communications (Nasdaq: FTR), and Windstream (Nasdaq: WIN) have agreed to take CAF-I funding to reach customers unserved by broadband service today.

Verizon (NYSE: VZ), the second largest telco, decided not to participate in the program.

All of these service providers decided to take more money in the second part of the CAF-I program after the FCC changed the rules about how the funds could be spent.

CenturyLink, for example, was initially eligible to get $90 million in CAF-funding, but it only accepted $35 million last year because it said that the FCC's rules made it "uneconomic" to bring broadband to other areas. The service provider announced in August that it would accept $54 million in order to extend broadband services to over 92,000 homes and businesses throughout its serving territory.  

These five service providers identified 563,767 locations where they wanted to use CAF-I funds to reach customers not served by broadband. Although the eligibility of some of those locations was challenged, the FCC's action will provide funding for 393,409 locations.

Tom Wheeler, chairman of the FCC, said in a release that "These funds will jump-start broadband access in areas that would otherwise be bypassed by the digital economy."

For more:
- see the release

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