NORTH CAROLINA – CenturyLink, Inc. has announced that it will bring high-speed Internet services to more than 36,000 rural households and businesses in North Carolina by accepting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)’s Connect America Fund (CAF) statewide offer in North Carolina.
CenturyLink is accepting 33 CAF phase II statewide offers from the FCC to bring Internet service with speeds of at least 10 Mbps download and 1 Mbps upload to approximately 1.2 million locations in FCC-designated, high-cost census blocks. The company is accepting a total of approximately $500 million a year for six years.
Since it is a six-year plan CenturyLink is still in the planning phases and is not releasing specific information to to whether Ocracoke will benefit or not, according to Simone Alley, CenturyLink spokesperson.
High-speed Internet access brings benefits to rural communities, including economic development and better access to education and healthcare services such as distance learning and telemedicine.
“We’re pleased to help bridge the urban-rural digital divide by bringing high-speed broadband to more than 36,000 households and businesses in high-cost markets in North Carolina,” said Kevin McCarter, CenturyLink East region president. “While CAF II funding does not address all markets in our footprint, our company investment for CAF II is significant, and we look forward to working closely with North Carolina policymakers to find funding and deployment solutions for additional markets.”
“Broadband service is vital to the economic future of rural North Carolina,” Governor Pat McCrory said. “I want to thank CenturyLink for helping us reach our goal of connecting all of North Carolina to the digital age.”
Once CenturyLink’s initial CAF II six-year build-out plan is finalized over the coming months, construction is expected to begin in early 2016.
The FCC created the CAF program in 2011 to facilitate high-speed Internet access in high-cost locations by transitioning Universal Service Fund money that was supporting rural land line service to the build-out of broadband infrastructure in rural communities.
CenturyLink previously accepted approximately $75 million in CAF phase I interim, one-time support to bring broadband with 4 Mbps download speed to nearly 114,000 unserved rural locations in 33 of the 37 states where it offers residential broadband service.