The FCC has authorized more than $240 million in new rural broadband subsidies for auction winners in nine states. Those include New York, where the FCC has been criticized in some quarters over deciding that its new rural broadband buildout funds would not go to places getting other monies from states or other broadband subsidy programs (like those of the USDA), some areas of New York being a notable examples of that.
The money is the ninth allocation stemming from the 2018 Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II auction. The 2018 auction allocated $1.488 billion with a goal of reaching 700,000 unserved homes in the next 10 years.
"The funding being authorized in New York is the third wave of matching funds provided through the FCC’s partnership with the state’s New NY Broadband Program," the FCC pointed out in announcing the authorizations.
The other states divvying up the pot are Arkansas, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Oklahoma, and Wyoming (see chart below).
Missouri is also a notable name in the list. Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) wrote FCC chair Ajit Pai only the day before (Feb. 12) to ask for the status of broadband buildout money for his state.
The FCC has now provided an answer. The winning providers have to build out 40% of their homes within three years, and all of them by year six.
“Today’s announcement is another important step in our efforts to close the digital divide and connect rural Americans with the economic, healthcare, and educational opportunities made possible by high-speed broadband,” said Pai in a statement. “Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to see firsthand how funding provided through the FCC’s Connect America Fund Phase II auction is having a positive impact on the Wind River Indian Reservation in rural Wyoming. And the funding we are authorizing today will bring those same benefits and connect more rural Americans with digital opportunity.”
The FCC is under pressure from Capitol Hill to find more money for rural broadband, including from upcoming 5G spectrum auctions, as well as to come up with better data on where that money should be put.