"The choice before the Commission is clear: It can waive the rules in the limited fashion described below or it can consign these thousands of rural Americans to more years of waiting for the benefits of broadband notwithstanding the availability of more than $59 million that could be used to deliver service much sooner," declared Windstream in the regulatory filing.
Windstream's Einhorn said that 92 percent of the company's lines already are capable of broadband. "That means there are very few locations left in our territory that can be added for $775 or less in support as spelled out by the CAF-1 rules," he said in the statement.
The FCC earmarked $300 million in phase one of the Connect America Fund to help bridge the digital divide. Given the FCC's announcement Wednesday that $115 million in public funding will be used in phase one, that means only slightly more than one-third of the available funding was accepted.
CenturyLink, the nation's third-largest wireline telephone company, on Tuesday said it will accept $35 million from the fund but also has a waiver pending before the FCC. CenturyLink noted it was eligible for nearly $90 million in funding, but restrictions on the use of those "funds made further deployment uneconomic."
Earlier this month, Frontier Communications announced that it would accept $71.9 million from the FCC to build out broadband to 92,876 homes covering more than half of the 27 states where it provides service. And on Monday, FairPoint Communications announced it would expand broadband Internet in 53 towns across Vermont using $2 million from the Connect America Fund. The funding also will enable the telecom provider to add broadband coverage in South China, Maine.
The FCC last year established the Connect America Fund to accelerate broadband to Americans who live in rural areas. The fund aims to connect 7 million Americans to broadband in six years, contributing toward the goal of connecting all 19 million unserved residents by 2020, the government agency said.