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FCC Expands Affordable Broadband in Tribal Homes and Businesses

FCC Authorizes Support for Broadband in Over 44,000 Tribal Homes and Businesses Nationwide

Another Important Step Toward Closing the Digital Divide on Tribal Lands and Nationwide

Taking further steps to close the digital divide, the Federal Communications Commission today authorized support over the next decade for maintaining, improving, and expanding affordable broadband in 44,243 homes and businesses on Tribal lands nationwide.

In most of these Tribal homes and businesses – 37,281 of them – carriers must deliver speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps.  The authorization on Tribal lands in 13 states was part of a nationwide authorization of over $4.9 billion in support over the next decade for 455,334 homes and businesses served by 171 carriers in 39 states and American Samoa.

The support is targeted to smaller rural carriers, traditionally known as “rate-of-return” carriers.  These carriers agreed this year to accept subsidies based on the FCC’s Alternative Connect America Cost Model, or A-CAM, which provides predictability, rewards efficiency, and provides more value for each taxpayer dollar.  The homes and businesses are in sparsely populated rural areas and Tribal lands where the per-location price of deployment and ongoing costs of providing broadband service are high, requiring support from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund to facilitate network improvements and keep rates reasonably comparable to those in urban areas.

Providers will be held accountable to taxpayers and the Commission through an enforceable schedule for delivering improved and expanded service, with the first interim deployment obligation occurring in 2022.

“With this commitment to broadband on Tribal lands over the next decade, carriers get the predictable support they need to close a digital divide that, for too long, has disproportionately separated Native Americans from digital opportunity,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “And taxpayers, who fund this support through a fee on their phone bills, are getting more bang for their buck through this efficient, accountable program.”

Source: FCC media announcement

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