CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) announced today that it will accept $54 million from the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund (CAF) this year to bring broadband to more than 92,000 rural homes and businesses in unserved high-cost areas.
When combined with its copayment, CenturyLink will invest more than $108 million over the next three years to bring broadband speeds of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream to rural households and businesses in 33 of the 37 states where it offers residential broadband service. The company’s investment of its own capital will exceed the amount of CAF phase I, round 2 funding it accepts.
Earlier this year, close to 100 members of Congress from both parties urged the FCC to quickly distribute CAF phase I, round 2 money to bring broadband to more rural Americans.
“We commend the FCC for its collective commitment to bringing the many benefits of high-speed Internet service to unserved high-cost areas of rural America,” said Steve Davis, CenturyLink executive vice president for public policy and government relations. “CenturyLink is investing millions of dollars to deploy broadband to thousands of Americans who live in areas that would be cost prohibitive to serve without programs like the FCC’s Connect America Fund.”
CenturyLink was eligible to receive $90 million in CAF phase I, round 2 money, but the FCC’s market eligibility restrictions made further deployment uneconomic.
The $54 million is in addition to $35 million in CAF phase I, round 1 money that CenturyLink accepted in 2012 to deploy broadband service to 45,000 homes and businesses in unserved rural areas. Through the CAF I program, CenturyLink is deploying broadband to nearly 140,000 unserved rural consumers.