FCC proposes to free up EUR 954 mln for Puerto Rico and USVI network repair

Wednesday 7 March 2018 | 09:41 CET | News

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed to spend a total of USD 954 million toward both restoring and expanding communications networks in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands following the devastating impact of Hurricanes Maria and Irma last year. Specifically, the FCC proposed to create a USD 750 million ‘Uniendo a Puerto Rico’ Fund (‘Bringing Puerto Rico Together’ Fund) and a USD 204 million Connect USVI Fund, each of which would provide additional short-term assistance for restoring communications networks and longer-term support for expanding broadband access throughout the islands.

The plan includes an immediate infusion of USD 64 million in additional funding for short-term restoration efforts, plus USD 631 million in long-term funding for the restoration and expansion of fixed broadband connectivity in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands as well as USD 259 million in medium-term funding to boost 4G LTE mobile broadband connectivity.

The FCC specified that it would convert advanced funding it provided last year to operators in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands into new funding by declining to offset that funding against future universal service support payments. It would also repurpose universal service support already directed to hurricane-affected areas.

The commission added that FCC chairman Ajit Pai will be in Puerto Rico and the USVI from 07 to 10 March leading a team to review recovery efforts, evaluate lessons learned from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, and prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.

Hurricane Maria was the first Category 4 storm to strike Puerto Rico directly since 1932, hitting the island on 20 September 2017 and knocking out 95 percent of the island's mobile base stations just hours after passing through the US Virgin Islands.

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