Chairman Pai Unveils $954 Million Plan To Restore And Expand Networks In Puerto Rico And US Virgin Islands (updated)
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed to direct approximately $954 million toward restoring and expanding communications networks in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands—networks that were damaged and destroyed during the 2017 hurricane season. Specifically, he 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 plan includes:
- An immediate infusion of approximately $64 million in additional funding for shortterm 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 US 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 US Virgin Islands.
- The immediate conversion of the advanced funding the Commission provided last year to carriers in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands into new funding by declining to offset that advanced funding against future universal service support payments.
Update: Where does the money come from? Politico reports that the plan provides $256 million in new money and repurposes the universal service funding already set to flow to Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The new money comes from the FCC's universal service fund high-cost subsidies, said FCC spokesman Mark Wigfield. "It includes money originally advanced for the restoration effort that will no longer need to be paid back as well as other new funds coming from increased contributions to USF."
Chairman Pai Unveils $954 Million Plan To Restore And Expand Networks In Puerto Rico And U.S. Virgin Islands FCC To Help Fund PR, VI Network Rebuilds, Buildouts (Multichannel News) FCC proposes nearly $1 billion toward recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands (The Hill) Pai of the Storm (Politico)