The Federal Communications Commission has made available $64.2 million in Stage 1 funding to help providers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands restore voice and broadband service in the aftermaths of Hurricane Irma and María.
The funding is made available through the regulator’s “Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund,” with $51.2 million and the “Connect USVI Fund,” with $13 million. The money must be used to cover the immediate short-term costs of restoring and maintaining service for existing facilities-based providers across the islands, the FCC stated.
The FCC selected 13 telecom service providers in Puerto Rico and the USVI to receive funding, after submitting a certification with evidence of the number of subscribers served as of June 30, 2017.
Puerto Rico’s recipients are:
- Puerto Rico Telephone Co. — which does business as Claro Puerto Rico — which has been assigned $22.1 milion;
- Liberty Cablevision, $11 million;
- AT&T, $8.9 million;
- T-Mobile, $4.4 million;
- PRWireless PR — which does business as Sprint/Open Mobile — $3 million;
- Worldnet, $1.3 million;
- Data@ccess, $138,409;
- Neptuno, $41,919;
- VPNet, $38,797; and,
- Critical Hub, $36,347.
The FCC also authorized disbursements to carriers providing services to the USVI, namely:
- Virgin Islands Telephone Corporation dba Viya (ATN), $6.7 million;
- AT&T, $4.7 million;
- BroadbandVI, $931,211;
- LAN Communications, $195.92; and,
- Choice Communications, LLC (ATN), $353,497.
The Universal Service Administrative Company will disburse the funds allocated through the funds
The FCC announced the creation of the funds in May, during a visit from Chairman Ajit Pai to survey the damage last September’s back-to-back hurricanes caused to telecom infrastructure in Puerto Rico and the USVI, as this media outlet reported.
There is still a possibility for more funding for the islands, as the FCC is considering a a proposal to allocate over the next decade for the expansion of fixed broadband connectivity approximately $444.5 million in funding for Puerto Rico and $186.5 million for the USVI.