Funding authorization in the Connect America Fund Phase CAF II auction moved close to completion with the award of $20,000,131 to two telecommunications firms that will expand broadband connectivity in Minnesota and Pennsylvania. It was the 14th wave of awards from the Connect America Fund Phase II auction.
Both awards are over a ten year term. The big winner was Viasat Carrier Services, which was awarded $19,945,120 to provide 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream service – the base FCC definition of broadband — to 45,100 locations in Pennsylvania. Fond du Lac Communications will receive $55,011 to provide 1 Gbps downstream and 500 Mbps upstream services in 13 small and isolated tribal locations in Minnesota.
As of now the FCC has approved CAF II authorization for the vast majority of awardees. The 2018 auction allocated $1.488 billion over ten years to bring broadband expansions to more than 700,000 unserved rural homes and small businesses in 45 states. Winners were chosen based on their ability to bring service to an area with the lowest level of support. So far, the FCC has authorized $1.47 billion to expand connectivity to 688,926 rural homes and businesses.
Winners must build out to 40% of assigned homes and businesses within three years and continue building out by 20% in each succeeding year until the end of the sixth year, when projects will be complete.
CAF II has been very good to Viasat, which was a big winner in the auction, winning awards totaling $122.5 million. The company gained authorization for 15 states last year but funding authorization for Pennsylvania has taken longer. In a CAF II authorization public notice last month, the FCC said that the company had been authorized for CAF II funding for numerous deployments in Pennsylvania. Today’s authorization appears to be for additional Pennsylvania deployments.