Agency Wants Input on Broadband Funding

     WASHINGTON (CN) - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed changes to Phase I of the Connect America Fund (CAF) regarding the definition of unserved areas and the allocation of $185 million in remaining 2012 broadband funds.
     The CAF reformed and modernized the previous universal service and intercarrier
     compensation systems with the aim of providing broadband internet to more than 18 million Americans who live in rural "price cap" areas who do not have access to affordable services, the rule stated. "Broadband has gone from being a luxury to a necessity for full participation in our economy and society - for all Americans," the agency's website noted.
     The FCC requested comments on potential changes to the rules for the CAF Phase I, to expand on the steps already taken earlier this year, while the agency continues to implement Phase II. The agency proposed to expand the definition of unserved areas to ensure that CAF Phase I funds were being spent on services that meet the minimum broadband speed standard, and also proposed a challenge process for the development of a map of areas eligible for funding. Additionally, the agency asked for input on proposals to distribute the next round of Phase I funding "including tying funding to the construction of second-mile fiber, tying funding to the estimated costs of deployment in an area, and maintaining the $775 per unserved location metric," the rule said.
     Comments are due by Jan. 28, 2013 and reply comments by Feb. 11, 2013.
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