AT&T is going to replace copper wiring in parts of its California market damaged by fires due to drought conditions and high winds with fiber facilities. Major damage to public facilities was caused five counties of Northern California: Napa, Solano, Sonoma, Lake and Mendocino due to the result of 21 reported fires. AT&T filed an application for emergency authorization under Section 214(a) of the Communications Act and Section 63.63 of the Federal Communications Commission’s rules to suspend AT&T’s interstate telecommunications services until services can be rebuilt.
So which US-based providers got the most amount of federal rural broadband funding in 2017?
As CenturyLink looks to continue its broadband expansion efforts in harder to build rural areas using a mix of wireline and wireless technologies, the service provider says the Federl Communications Commission should not alter the rules governing the Priority Access Licenses (PALs) that will be issued in the 3.5 GHz band. CenturyLink, which asked the FCC for permission last fall to test 3.4 GHz wireless spectrum in some of its rural markets, told the FCC that the “use of PEAs as the geographic license area for PALs will inhibit higher-speed broadband deployment in rural areas.”
AT&T has asked the Federal Communications Commission to realign the way it regulates how service providers shut down Time-division multiplexing (TDM)-based data and retirement services with the hope of creating incentives for service providers to invest in next-gen services.
CenturyLink has inched closer to meeting its Federal Communications Commission CAF-II program commitments, reaching over 600,000 rural homes and businesses with broadband over the past two years. In August 2015, CenturyLink accepted $500 million in CAF-II funding. This money, combined with its own capital, will ultimately enable the telco to deliver broadband services to about 1.2 million rural households and businesses in 33 states over the next six years.
Frontier, Consolidated and Windstream told the Federal Communications Commission that to leverage wireless spectrum bands like 3.5 GHz to address rural broadband gaps, the current license size should be changed. In a recent joint FCC filing, the three service providers, which are all recipients of the regulator’s CAF II program, say that the larger license sizes—specifically partial economic areas (PEAs)—are too big and too expensive. As a result, the trio added that PEAs would preclude “potential participation from carriers considering deploying fixed wireless in very rural areas.”
Frontier has extended broadband service to over 275,000 households across CA, using a mix of its own capital and the Federal Communications Commission's Connect America Fund Phase II program funding.
AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier’s rural wireline, wireless expansions could benefit from FCC’s $2B CAF auction
AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier and other providers that want to further expand rural broadband will soon be able to bid in the Federal Communications Commission’s $2 billion additional Connect America Fund II auction. The FCC has identified nearly 1 million homes and small businesses that will be eligible for broadband deployment support over the next 10 years. A large majority of the rural areas the FCC identified do not have access to broadband internet service. Given the low density of these areas, service providers are unlikely to expand service without federal support.
Frontier appears to be on a roll with its Connect America Fund II deployments, expanding broadband services in the rural areas of eight additional states in 2017. The list of states included in this latest push in which Frontier is ahead of pace in deploying rural broadband include: Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin.
Frontier users have found an unwelcome present in their latest bill as the company has added a $2-a-month Internet Infrastructure Surcharge:
"Beginning with this bill, customers not on an Internet Service term agreement, price protection plan or subject to other exclusions will be assessed a $1.99 per month Internet Infrastructure surcharge. The Internet Infrastructure surcharge is not a tax or governmental charge."
Frontier says the surcharge has been implemented to defray some local network maintenance costs.