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Senator seeks better return on broadband funds for states

Fri, 12/06/2013 - 12:37pm
The Associated Press

Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire says her home state is getting shortchanged by the Universal Service Fund (USF), a program that is supposed to help expand broadband access in rural communities.

USF is also known by its new name, the Connect America Fund.

Ayotte has introduced legislation that would ensure that rural states get at least 75 cents for every dollar they contribute to the USF. The money is collected through telephone bills, but Ayotte says New Hampshire gets back only 37 cents for every dollar it sends.

Ayotte was joined at a news conference Wednesday by representatives from telecommunications companies, state economic development officials and the New Hampshire High Tech Council. She says in too many parts of New Hampshire, reliable broadband access is hard to come by, making it more difficult for businesses to compete globally.

As Ayotte was speaking, various other states were announcing their shares of the latest round of USF funding.

Alabama is getting the largest share of $255 million in federal funding to connect more homes and businesses to broadband internet service. The program expects to extend broadband to a total of about 1 million households across the U.S.

The Federal Communications Commission says it's authorizing $27.8 million to provide access to almost 38,000 homes and businesses in rural Alabama.

The money will connect more than 90,000 people who currently lack the service. The funds will be used by four carriers: AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier Communications and Windstream Corp.

Alabama is receiving the largest of any state funding block announced Thursday by the FCC. Tennessee is No. 2, at $26.2 million.

The money comes from an FCC program to bring broadband access to rural communities.

FCC program expanding broadband in rural W.Va.

Broadband service is being expanded to about 36,000 homes and businesses in rural West Virginia.

The Federal Communications Commission announced Thursday that its Connect America Fund has earmarked $22 million for West Virginia. Frontier Communications will use the funds in rural portions of its service areas, connecting more than 87,000 people who lack service.

The USF/Connect America Fund is part of the FCC's initiative to bring broadband access to rural communities.

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