Liberty, Claro get $127M in FCC funding to blanket island with broadband
The Federal Communications Commission announced it has selected Liberty Puerto Rico and Claro Puerto Rico to receive a combined $127 million in funding through its Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund to deploy broadband connectivity throughout the island.
The companies participated in the FCC’s competitive Stage 2 funding round, which will allocate the money over 10 years for fixed voice and broadband services based on the weighting of price and network performance, including speed, latency, usage allowance, and resiliency.
Liberty Communications won approximately $71.5 million in support to provide high-speed broadband access to all locations in 43 of Puerto Rico’s 78 municipalities. Puerto Rico Telephone Co., which does business as Claro, won approximately $55.6 million in support to provide high-speed broadband access to all locations in the other 35 municipalities.
All told, Liberty Communications has committed to offering service to more than 914,000 locations, and Puerto Rico Telephone Company will offer service to more than 308,000 locations in Puerto Rico, the FCC said.
While all locations will have access to fixed broadband service with speeds of at least 100 Mbps, nearly one-third of those locations will have access to speeds of at least 1 Gbps, the federal agency said.
“These are incredible results. I’m very pleased with the outcome of the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund’s Stage 2 Competitive Process,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “The Fund will bring modern, resilient broadband service of at least 100 Mbps to every location in Puerto Rico—each and every one.”
“As most people know, the island has suffered so much devastation to communications infrastructure from hurricanes in recent years, and even before that, connectivity was a challenge for many,” Pai said.
“Our decisive action to enable the deployment of resilient, next-generation broadband networks throughout Puerto Rico reflects our determination to close the digital divide, which has been my top priority since becoming chairman,” he added.
Winning applicants will be able to receive funding after completing the FCC’s remaining steps for authorizing high-cost support.