Frontier to expand broadband access

Published 1:50 pm Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Frontier Communications Corp. has accepted $22,927,849 from the Connect America Fund to expand and support broadband to approximately 66,592 of its rural customers in Ohio.

The Connect America Fund will provide ongoing support for rural broadband networks in Frontier’s service areas capable of delivering broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps for downloads and 1 Mbps uploads to approximately 66,592 homes and businesses in Ohio.

While Frontier has the flexibility to shift the funds among eligible areas, the support for homes and business in Lawrence County includes $60,577 for 149 customers.

“The Connect America Fund will enable Frontier to expand robust broadband in its rural service areas, benefitting its customers and their communities,” said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. “This is a major step forward in the FCC’s efforts to ensure that all Americans have access to modern broadband and the opportunities it provides, no matter where they live.”

Like telephone service in the 20th century, broadband has become essential to life in the 21st century. But, according to the FCC’s latest Broadband Progress Report, nearly one in three rural Americans lack access to 10/1 broadband, compared to only one in 100 urban Americans.

The FCC’s traditional universal service program succeeded in ensuring telephone network coverage in rural America by providing subsidies where the cost of service would otherwise be prohibitive. In late 2011, the FCC modernized the program to support networks capable of providing broadband and voice services, and created the Connect America Fund to efficiently and effectively administer that support to expand broadband in rural areas where market forces alone can’t support expansion.

Since then, Phase I of Connect America has provided $438 million to expand broadband to nearly 1.7 million people in over 637,000 homes and businesses in 45 states and Puerto Rico, including $133 million to Frontier. 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.

Carriers receiving this support must build out broadband to 40 percent of funded locations in the state by the end 2017, 60 percent by end of 2018 and 100 percent by the end of 2020. 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.