centurylinkAn additional 600K homes and businesses in rural markets are connected to broadband thanks to funding from the Connect America Fund (CAF) for CenturyLink rural broadband expansion, the company announced today. The carrier committed to the FCC CAF II program in 2015, accepting $3 billion, or $500 million annually for six years.

CenturyLink rural broadband expansion will eventually reach 1.2 million locations across 33 states, with a 2021 completion goal commitment. So far, 51% of the commitment has been reached, which calls for minimum broadband speeds of 10/1 Mbps.

CenturyLink reports that 70% of the 600K locations can receive 20 Mbps speed or higher. The company intends to have 60% of its CAF commitments completed by the end of 2018. (story continues below)

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“CenturyLink is making significant investments to bring broadband to more homes and businesses in our various markets,” said John F. Jones, CenturyLink senior vice president of public policy and government relations in a press release. “Many rural schools, libraries, hospitals and public safety agencies are now benefitting from our broadband upgrades and investment thanks to the Connect America Fund.

CenturyLink didn’t initially accept the total CAF II funding offered to the company, declining $14 million, which would have applied to markets in California, Mississippi, Oklahoma and Wyoming.