The FCC Wireline Competition Bureau will use a reverse auction to award up to $691.2 million over the next 10 years to support the deployment of advanced, hardened fixed broadband and voice networks to all locations in the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The investment will help ensure that those living in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands will have access to and benefit from the same high-speed broadband services that residents of the mainland United States enjoy, according to the FCC.
FCC Puerto Rico Broadband
The majority of the funding — more than $500 million over 10 years — will go toward fixed broadband in Puerto Rico through the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund. The remaining $180 million will go to the U.S. Virgin Islands and will be allocated over 10 years for fixed broadband support through the Connect USVI Fund.
The funding is part of a total of $952 million that the FCC approved for the islands in September. In addition to the $691.2 million, $254 million was approved for mobile service at that time.
There will be a competitive process to award support for fixed voice and broadband services based on the weighting of price and network performance, including speed, latency and usage allowance. The FCC will release an application form, instructions, and announce the application deadline soon, following approval by the Office of Management and Budget.
“Every step closer to providing this funding is a step in the right direction,” said Kris Monteith, Chief of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, in a prepared statement. “Laying out this clear, manageable, and predictable process will ensure we get the best impact possible from this investment of funds. Bridging the digital divide is the agency’s top priority under Chairman Ajit Pai and we’ve put a special emphasis on helping connect Americans in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Today is a big day in that effort.”