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FCC lays down rules to invest $692M in P.R./USVI broadband, voice networks

The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau established the procedures for its investment of up to $691.2 million over the next 10 years to support the deployment of “advanced, hardened” broadband and voice networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. 

This investment will help ensure that those living in Puerto Rico and the USVI will have access to and benefit from the same high-speed broadband services that residents of the mainland United States enjoy, the FCC said.

“Every step closer to providing this funding is a step in the right direction,” said Kris Monteith, chief of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau. 

“Laying out this clear, manageable, and predictable process will ensure we get the best impact possible from this investment of funds,” he said. 

“Bridging the digital divide is the agency’s top priority under Chairman Ajit Pai and we’ve put a special emphasis on helping connect Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Today is a big day in that effort,” Monteith said.

This is the second stage in the agency’s rollout of support to Puerto Rico and the USVI. This stage allocates more than $500 million over 10 years in fixed broadband support through the “Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund.” 

It also allocates more than $180 million over 10 years for fixed broadband support through the “Connect USVI Fund.”

This funding stage will use a competitive process to award support for fixed voice and broadband services based on the weighting of price and network performance, including speed, latency, and usage allowance. 

The FCC will release an application form, instructions, and announce the application deadline soon, following approval by the Office of Management and Budget. The FCC also has allocated up to $258.8 million in support for mobile service, including 5G, in Puerto Rico and the USVI over a three-year period.

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This story was written by our staff based on a press release.

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