FairPoint allocates $1.03M to extend, upgrade broadband infrastructure in 44 Maine towns

FairPoint Communications (Nasdaq: FRP) is leveraging part of its $3.3 million Connect America Fund Phase I allocation from the FCC to expand and upgrade broadband service in 44 Maine towns that have either no Internet access at all or can only get low-speed dial-up services.

The service provider will use $1.03 million of the funding to extend broadband access or offer higher speeds of 4/1 Mbps and above to about 6,000 locations--of which more than 1,659 qualify for CAF funding.

Similar to its other project just announced in New Hampshire, the buildout in Maine will span three years with about a third of the communities coming online each year. 

Like other telcos that applied for the second round of CAF Phase I funding, FairPoint found that the FCC's revised rules about how to spend money on broadband expansion worked in their favor.

Initially, FairPoint only accepted $2 million from the CAF last July to provide broadband service to 53 Vermont towns that were deemed "unserved" or don't have any broadband access.

"In the first round, we had a lot of cost of constraints because the dollar amount did not work in a lot of our areas, and another issue, (that) any type of merger commitment prevented us from taking funding, so we ended up focusing on Vermont," said Mike Skrivan, VP of regulatory for FairPoint, in an interview with FierceTelecom.

In addition to New England, the telco will allocate other funds to bring broadband to rural areas in other parts of its 17-state footprint.

A key point in being able to serve unserved and underserved areas with speeds of up to 4/1 Mbps and above is the deployment of fiber to backhaul traffic from remote terminals to their central offices.  

"Not all of these locations have fiber that's required all the way back, but there's quite a bit of fiber that will be run to these new sites that are eligible," said Steve Freeman, director of engineering for FairPoint.

In conducting where they could build and extend broadband service, Freeman added that they "looked at all of the eligible locations and ranked them to see which ones would fall in the funding limitations provided by the FCC and how much we'd actually have to self-fund to bring service to those locations."

For more:
- see the release

Related articles:
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FairPoint accepts $3.3M in CAF I rural broadband funding
FairPoint, Maine PUC reach agreement on state's broadband plans
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