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FCC Awards Viasat $87.1 Million to Connect 121,700 Rural Homes to Satellite Internet

Phillip Dampier December 16, 2019 Consumer News, Public Policy & Gov't, Rural Broadband, ViaSat Exede, Wireless Broadband 2 Comments

More than 121,000 homes and businesses in 17 states will receive subsidized satellite internet service from Viasat, after the Federal Communications Commission awarded $87.1 million to connect customers at those locations at a cost of just over $715 per customer.

The money is part of the ongoing Connect America Fund (CAF) program, designed to subsidize the costs of delivering internet access in high-cost, typically rural areas. The current iteration of the program is dispensing funding over 10 years to 45 states. Viasat won the funding through an auction procedure that makes it easy for satellite providers to win funding because of low infrastructure costs to service rural areas that lack a wired internet service provider.

An additional $2.1 million was awarded to some other providers:

  • Fixed wireless provider LTD Broadband, which relies on 1,500 wireless internet tower sites covering over 40,000 square miles of Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska and South Dakota.
  • Horry Telephone Cooperative, which serves rural customers in Horry County, S.C.
  • Bruce Telephone Company, which won funding for parts of Wisconsin to deliver gigabit internet service.
  • JCWIFI, which provides fixed wireless internet within a 3,000 square mile service area covering parts of Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin.

In addition to the upper Midwest and South Carolina, the biggest states expected to benefit from the latest awards are (northern) California and Wyoming.

At least $2 billion in subsidy funds became available after larger providers — AT&T, CenturyLink and Verizon turned down funding because the companies had no interest in building out their networks in rural service areas.

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4 years ago

I do not envy the folks that are relegated to using satellite Internet for the rest of their lives.

4 years ago

Interesting this would come now, just months away from OneWeb and StarLink going live. Who wants to crawl with Viasat at 12 Mbps, while OneWeb and StarLink are promising speeds up to 500 Mbps and beyond? Sounds more like Viasat wants to lock-in some government handouts, before it finds itself unable to compete with satellites, no larger than a dishwasher, beaming gigabit internet into homes all over the planet. Watch how fast these same subsidized subscribers dump Viasat, once they have access to lighting fast satellite internet. What a waste of taxpayer money!

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