FCC: CAF 1 Now Has $385 Million Worth of Takers

The FCC said Wednesday that its latest round of Phase 1 Connect America Fund broadband build-out subsidies has drawn requests for $385 million representing broadband access to up to 600,000 homes and businesses in 44 states and Puerto Rico.

The majority of that money is going to AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier, who all together applied for $320 million.

It was the second round of Phase 1, which is meant to provide broadband to unserved areas as quickly as possible, and went to incumbent indepent local exchange carriers. The Connect America Fund is the FCC effort to transition Universal Service Fund phone subsidies to broadband.

The first round -- there was only supposed to be one round -- had $300 million to give out, but only had requests for $115 million. AT&T and verizon passed the first time. The FCC tweaked the program to make it more attractive to telecoms, while maintaining build-out requirements. It said it would make additional money available if requests topped that $300 mark, which turned out to be the case.

"Broadband is no longer a luxury but is essential in today's society to finding a job, getting an education, receiving quality health care, and staying connected with family and community," said acting FCC Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn in a statement. "This second round of support from the Connect America Fund will leverage private investment and connect hundreds of thousands of rural consumers and businesses to the robust broadband that other communities have long taken for granted."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.