FCC authorizes almost $24M for rural Virginia broadband funding

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WASHINGTON, DC (WDBJ7) - The Federal Communications Commission has authorized more than $23.9 million in funding over the next decade to expand broadband to nearly 7,000 unserved homes and business in Virginia.

The money is part of the 2018 Connect American Fund Phase II auction. The provider, Sunset Digital Communications, will start receiving funding later this month.

“Across the great state of Virginia, the FCC is helping bring broadband to rural residents and businesses,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “It’s critical that rural Virginians have the same access to digital opportunity that their urban counterparts do. I’m pleased that today’s funding will support broadband to nearly 7,000 unserved rural homes and businesses in the state.”

Statewide in Virginia, the FCC has authorized more than $108.5 million to date to expand broadband to 39,658 rural homes and businesses. Below is a list of counties where providers will be receiving support from the latest funding wave, along with the number of homes and businesses served and the amount of support over 10 years. Minimum download/upload speeds are 1 Gbps/500 Mbps in each case:

Buchanan $3,485,482 over ten years to 626 locations

Dickenson / $5,623,553 over ten years to 1671 locations

Lee / $3,351,835 over ten years to 1018 locations

Russell / $7,258,590 over ten years to 2556 locations

Tazewell / $2,900,697 over ten years to 714 locations

Washington / $57,143 over ten years to nine locations

Wise / $1,302,153 over ten years to 404 locations

The total granted is $23,979,453.

Nationwide, the FCC authorized more than $61.8 million in funding over the next decade to expand broadband to nearly 22,000 unserved rural homes and businesses in 14 states.

Providers must build out to 40% of the assigned homes and businesses in the areas won in a state within three years. Buildout must increase by 20% in each subsequent year, until complete buildout is reached at the end of the sixth year.

The Connect America Fund Phase II auction allocated $1.488 billion nationwide in support to expand broadband to more than 700,000 unserved rural homes and small businesses over the next 10 years. It is part of a broader effort by the FCC to "close the digital divide in rural America."

August 1, the FCC proposed taking its biggest single step to date toward closing the rural digital divide by establishing the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which would direct up to $20.4 billion to expand broadband in unserved rural areas.

More information on the auction is available here. A map of winning bids is available here.

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