More broadband coming to area

Published 12:01 am Friday, August 28, 2015

CenturyLink customers living in rural areas will soon have access to broadband, as the phone and Internet company accepted more than $505 million in annual support from the Connect America Fund.

This support will help provide broadband for more than 2.3 million of the company’s rural customers.

In Alabama, the number of homes and businesses that will be reached is 48,865. The amount of support for the state is $17,290,009.

Mark Wigfield of the Federal Communications Commission said estimates show that Covington County will receive $1.1 million of support for its broadband service. The support will reach 2,885 CenturyLink customers in the county.

According to the FCC’s latest broadband progress report, nearly 1 in 3 rural Americans lack access to 10/1 broadband, compared to only 1 in 100 urban Americans. The 10/1 broadband refers to the Internet speed customers can download.

Over the next six years, Phase II of Connect America will provide more than $10 billion to expand broadband-capable networks throughout rural America nationwide, all without increasing the cost of the program to ratepayers.

Overall, the FCC’s Universal Service Fund allocates $4.5 billion annually through various universal service programs for high-cost areas to support voice- and broadband-capable networks in rural America.

Carriers receiving Connect America Fund support must build out broadband to 40 percent of funded locations by the end 2017; 60 percent by the end of 2018; 80 percent by the end of 2019; and 100 percent by the end of 2020.