FCC offering up $950M to improve broadband in Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands

CNET | 9/4/2019 | Marguerite Reardon
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The 2017 hurricane season took a devastating toll on Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, leaving residents without power, running water, or cellphone service.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing $950 million in funding to help carriers build faster and more resilient broadband networks in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, where infrastructure was devastated by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in 2017.

FCC - Universal - Service - Fund - Carriers

The FCC provided $66 million from the Universal Service Fund to assist carriers in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands soon after Maria. Then in 2018, it established the Uniendo a Puerto Rico and Connect USVI funds, which in their first phases provided $64 million to assist with network restoration in the island territories.

This latest proposal is the second phase of that funding and will offer $950 over the next 10 years to improve, expand, and harden broadband networks in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands.

Proposal - FCC - Sept - Meeting

The proposal will be voted on at the FCC's Sept. 26 meeting.

Pai said in a statement that even though the FCC "took numerous steps to help restore communications in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands following the devastating one-two punches delivered by Hurricanes Irma and Maria," the agency knew it needed a "long-term strategy." The idea is to ensure these islands have "access to the same high-speed fixed and mobile broadband networks as other Americans," and to ensure the networks can withstand future hurricanes.

Blog - Post - Wednesday - Pai - Proposal

In a blog post Wednesday, Pai added that the proposal will encourage and create incentives for broadband and wireless providers serving the islands to deploy gigabit-speed fixed broadband and 5G wireless service.

"Our goal is simple: to provide everyone in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands with digital opportunity,"...
(Excerpt) Read more at: CNET
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