CenturyLink, Inc. (NYSE: CTL) announced today that it is eligible to receive at least $90 million this year from the Federal Communications Commission’s Connect America Fund (CAF) to bring broadband to thousands of rural homes and businesses in high-cost areas. The company may also be eligible for additional CAF phase I money that was not accepted last year.
CenturyLink is currently evaluating how much of this CAF phase I, round 2 money the company will be able to accept and where it will be deployed. The company will also be spending an equal amount of its own capital over the next three years to deploy broadband service in rural America.
“CenturyLink is delighted to bring broadband to thousands of rural Americans who live in areas where the cost of providing broadband service would be economically prohibitive without public-private programs like the Connect America Fund. We applaud the commitment of FCC Acting Chairwoman Mignon Clyburn and Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Ajit Pai to bring the many benefits of broadband to more Americans in rural areas,” said Steve Davis, CenturyLink executive vice president for public policy and government relations.
“CenturyLink and the commission share the same goal of delivering high-speed Internet services to Americans who currently don’t have access to them,” Davis said. “We praise Chairwoman Clyburn for her dedication to communications issues that impact rural Americans and for being a strong proponent that all of the CAF I money left over from the first round be available to rural consumers. Clyburn has been a staunch advocate for consumers and a tireless champion of the economic and educational opportunities that come with broadband.”
Close to 100 members of Congress from both sides of the aisle contacted the FCC earlier this year urging the commission to distribute immediately CAF phase I, round 2 money to bring broadband to more rural Americans.
This money is in addition to the $35 million in CAF phase I, round 1 monies that CenturyLink accepted in 2012 to deploy broadband service to 45,000 homes in unserved rural areas. The company is also investing hundreds of millions of dollars of its own money to bring broadband to more customers in high-cost areas of its territory. The FCC is evaluating models for the next round, CAF phase II support, which will distribute up to $1.8 billion annually to support broadband in high-cost rural areas served by companies like CenturyLink.