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FCC Hands Out More Rural Broadband Bucks

The FCC has authorized another $2.6 million in support for rural broadband, the latest in its Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF II) auction outlays. 

The money is going to Armstrong Telecommunications to serve approximately 2,000 people in rural Northwester Pennsylvania with gigabit-speed broadband. 

Related: FCC Gives Out $240M in Rural Broadband Bucks 

“Getting gigabit-speed broadband to rural communities in northwestern Pennsylvania will make a real difference in the region,” said FCC chair Ajit Pai of the latest investment in closing the rural digital divide, a divide that has been put under a spotlight during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Nearly 2,000 rural homes and businesses that don’t currently have broadband service will get connected to some of the highest speed internet available through this support," he said. 

Armstrong has six years to build out that broadband, 40% by year three, then another 20% each of the succeeding three years. 

The 2018 Phase II auction allocated $1.488 billion in an effort to get broadband to 700,000 more rural residents within 10 years, with over half of them getting at least 100 Mbps speeds. The FCC has now authorized over $1.4 billion in 11 tranches.  

The largest incumbent price cap carriers—AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink—declined about $2 billion in Connect America Fund phase II (CAF II) support for building out broadband to high-cost, generally rural, areas, so the FCC opened that pot of money up to competitors, like cable broadband providers, via auction.