rural broadbandAT&T and Verizon CAF plans were revealed today, and it appears they have differing views on their rural broadband future. AT&T joins the list of telecom companies that have opted to accept most of the Connect America funding they were offered by the FCC earlier this year. The company said today that it will take $427,706,650 annually to help cover the cost of deploying broadband to unserved areas in 18 of the 21 states for which the company was offered funding.

That represents the majority of the nearly $494 million that the company was offered. Funding will last for six years and a spokesman said it will help bring service to more than 1.1 million locations. The three states for which the company is declining funding are Missouri, Nevada and Oklahoma.

Verizon Done with Rural Broadband?
It’s a different story at Verizon, which is not accepting funding for the states that will remain in its service territory assuming its pending sale of lines in California and Texas to Frontier is completed. According to a letter to the FCC today, Verizon essentially is accepting funding totaling $48.5 million on behalf of Frontier on the condition that the deal goes through. A Verizon spokesman declined to comment beyond what is written in the letter.

Verizon was offered a total of $144 million annually to bring broadband to unserved portions of its local service area. Funding for lines outside California and Texas, along with lines in states declined by AT&T and several other carriers, will now be awarded through a future reverse auction.

Also today Cincinnati Bell said it would accept over $2.2 million in CAF funding to bring broadband to unserved portions of rural Kentucky and Ohio — the entire amount the company was offered — and Micronesian Telecom accepted the entire $2.6 million it was offered.

AT&T Rural Broadband Plans Include Fixed Wireless
In a letter to the FCC stating AT&T’s intentions, AT&T Senior Vice President of External and Legislative Affairs James Cicconi said the company “anticipates meeting our CAF Phase II obligations through a mix of network technologies, including through the deployment of advanced wireless technologies on new wireless towers that will be constructed in previously unserved areas.”

The target broadband speed for CAF deployments is 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream – which is more than a typical wireless network supports today for mobile use. But there are a variety of technologies AT&T could use to obtain those speeds in a fixed deployment.

In a separate statement, Cicconi touched on AT&T’s decision-making process about the funding. “In deciding whether to accept the funding, we carefully analyzed a number of factors including the regulatory obligations associated with accepting the funds and whether the funding makes deployment economically feasible (including by using our advanced fixed wireless technology.)”

The amount of funding that carriers were offered was calculated by the FCC using a cost model.

The states for which AT&T is accepting funding are:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Michigan
  • Mississippi
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Wisconsin

Carriers’ decisions on whether to accept CAF funding were due today. Telecompetitor now has reported on the decisions by all 10 carriers who were offered funding.

Several carriers announced their decisions in recent days and weeks, and two others – CenturyLink and Consolidated – announced their decisions earlier today.

According to the FCC, the entire amount accepted was over $1.5 billion. An FCC release provides details about the amount of funding and number of locations to be served by state.