ALBUQUERQUE ─ Monday, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall applauded the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) allocation of $5.18 million from the Connect America Fund (CAF) to expand and improve broadband service to nearly 9,000 New Mexico households.
This announcement follows Udall’s efforts to urge the FCC to free up unused funds that would help close the digital divide between urban areas that have access to high-speed Internet and rural areas that do not.
“Reliable high-speed Internet is critical to leveling the playing field between rural and urban communities,” Udall said. “Broadband access carries with it new opportunities for small businesses, education and telehealth medicine, but today’s challenge is expanding it to the areas that are hardest to reach — areas that are also hurting the most economically. I’m fighting to ensure the reach of the Internet is extended to all of New Mexico’s communities, large and small. I worked with the FCC and broadband providers to put these existing funds to use, and I am glad to see our effort pay off here in New Mexico.”
After learning last year that a majority of Phase I CAF broadband funds would go unused due to eligibility requirements, Udall urged the FCC to refine the CAF rules to find a way to use all available resources to expand broadband coverage to rural areas.
In June, the FCC announced the policy change that would unlock the remaining funds, and announced last month that broadband providers Windstream, CenturyLink and Frontier would receive $5.18 million from CAF and equally match the funds to expand broadband service to 8,782 unserved and underserved New Mexico households — reaching approximately 22,800 people.
The Connect America Fund was created by the FCC to accelerate broadband to the millions of Americans living in rural areas who currently have no access to robust broadband infrastructure. This second round of funding from Phase I of CAF marks the continuation of the most significant public-private effort in history to ensure that every American home and business has access to broadband by the end of the decade. The push will spur economic growth and boost the nation’s global competitiveness.