FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed to direct approximately $954 million toward restoring and expanding communications networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico broadband networks were all but destroyed during the 2017 hurricane season and for the most part have continued to be down ever since.
Pai proposed to create a $750 million Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund (Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund) and a $204 million Connect USVI Fund. Each of these funds would provide additional short-term assistance for restoring communications networks in the aftermath of Hurricanes Irma and Maria and longer-term support for expanding broadband access throughout the islands.
“The people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still recovering from last year’s devastating storms. That means the FCC’s work is far from over,” Pai said in a prepared statement. “With the 2018 hurricane season less than three months away, we need to take bold and decisive action.”
USVI, Puerto Rico Broadband Plans
Specifically, the plan includes:
- An immediate infusion of approximately $64 million in additional funding for short-term restoration efforts.
- A proposal to allocate approximately $631 million in long-term funding for the restoration and expansion of fixed broadband connectivity in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- A proposal to allocate approximately $259 million in medium-term funding for the restoration and expansion of 4G LTE mobile broadband connectivity in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
- The immediate conversion of the advanced funding the FCC provided last year to carriers in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands into new funding by declining to offset that advanced funding against future universal service support payments.
- The plan would be funded by providing approximately $256 million in new funds as well as repurposing universal service support currently directed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.