CenturyLink bags $3b grant to expand rural broadband


American telco CenturyLink has committed itself to expanding its broadband services by accepting an FCC grant worth $500 million a year for six years.

The Connect America Fund (CAF) being managed by the FCC means telcos are incentivised to expand rollout of broadband services and connectivity to rural and disconnected households across the country. In a grant that could see the telco bag roughly $3 billion over the course of the next six years, it must first ensure it has delivered connectivity to an additional 1.2 million residential and commercial premises in 33 states.

In a statement released by CenturyLink, it says it has accepted 33 CAF phase II statewide offers from the FCC to bring internet services with download speeds of 10Mbps and 1Mbps upload or more in specific areas designated by the FCC. SVP for public policy and government relations John Jones explained the firm’s altruistic undertaking.

“Our acceptance of the CAF II funding continues our commitment to further bridge the urban-rural digital divide by bringing high-speed broadband to households and businesses in many of CenturyLink’s most rural markets,” he said. “These are high-cost markets with many deployment challenges. The Connect America Fund, along with our significant capital investments over the years, help make deploying rural broadband more cost effective. We believe the high-speed connectivity we will provide will bring many benefits to rural communities, including economic development and better access to education and healthcare services such as distance learning and telemedicine.”

CenturyLink says it will be finalising its build plan over the next few months, and will begin construction in early 2016.

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