This article originally appeared at The WHIR
Windstream Communications has been granted $175 million annually in federal funding to bring broadband services to more than 400,000 rural households across 17 states over the next seven years.
The funding is under Phase II Connect America Funds (CAF-II), a program that aims to help Americans living in rural areas access to broadband networks as an estimated 15 million Americans don’t have access to entry-level broadband in their homes. Last year, Phase II of the CAF was implemented, and the minimum broadband speed for receiving support to 10/1 Mbps from 4/1 Mbps, the first adjustment since 2011.
Reports have shown that improved and higher speed broadband access can have a positive effect on local economies. In the UK, for example, lack of superfast broadband access was a main factor in hindering growth of small and mid-sized businesses.
Last year Windstream and CenturyLink expressed concern that the timeline to meet the 10/1 Mbps requirements laid out by the CAF was unrealistic, noting that they would need a longer buildout and support term since it would require “a massive extension of fiber, new remote terminal equipment, and reconfiguration of existing copper.”
It seems that Windstream has come to an agreeable plan with the FCC as it said in a statement that it has made “significant strides in expanding and improving its broadband capabilities in its rural service areas, through its own investments and universal service and stimulus funds.”
“Windstream is committed to providing robust and reliable voice and broadband services to our customers,” Tony Thomas, Windstream’s president and CEO said in a statement. “This ongoing support supplements Windstream’s substantial network investments, enabling us to continue service in many high-cost areas and to offer new service to many others.”
States supported by the agreement include Iowa, Georgia, Kentucky, Texas and Alabama. Thomas said that it has declined the offer for New Mexico because it would not be able to meet the program’s obligations. Windstream will “remain focused on providing affordable broadband service to consumers throughout” its New Mexico service area.
Cities across the US are relying on their own resources or partnering with private companies in order to bring a Gigabit Internet service to their communities without having to wait for big telcos. Ting is one of the companies partnering with several cities, most recently launching its Gigabit Internet service in Charlottesville, Virginia.