The FCC has authorized $4.9 billion in A-CAM rural broadband funding over 10 years. The money will go to 171 small rate-of-return carriers to make broadband available to 455,334 homes and businesses in 39 states and American Samoa, including 44,243 locations on tribal lands.

Carriers will be required to provide service at speeds of at least 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream to the majority of locations – 363,000.

A-CAM Rural Broadband Funding
The newly authorized funding comes from the high-cost Universal Service Fund, which covers some of the cost of providing service in rural areas that are costly to serve. Traditionally, funding was based on embedded costs, but several years ago, the FCC created a cost model based on forward looking costs, known as the alternative Connect America model or A-CAM.

Small rural carriers that had not extensively deployed broadband throughout their service territory had the option of remaining on the traditional program or switching to funding based on the A-CAM model and agreeing to more aggressive buildout deadlines. The majority of rural carriers eligible for the program accepted the funding, which at that time, was based on a definition of broadband calling for speeds of 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream. (story continues below)

Late last year, the FCC raised the broadband speed definition to 25/3 Mbps, making more areas eligible for funding and a new A-CAM offer was made.

States that will benefit most from the funding authorized this week include Minnesota, where funding for 55,520 locations was authorized; South Dakota (55,089); North Dakota (41,578) and Iowa (38,609).

Additional information can be found in this FCC public notice.

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