Ten broadband operators, including AT&T, CenturyLink and Frontier, have accepted a total of $1.5 billion in funding from the second phase of the FCC's Connect America Fund (CAF-II), an initiative designed to bring broadband connectivity to 23 million rural Americans.
But in accepting the second round of funding, operators are doing so amid a significantly changed landscape, with the FCC changing the definition of broadband.
In 2013, five companies accepted a total of $255 million from the first CAF round, resulting in more than 500,000 rural Americans getting broadband access by 2020. That round was accepted when the FCC's minimum threshold for broadband was 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
Today's definition calls for a minimum 10 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream speed.
"When 80 percent of Americans can access 25/3 [Mbps], that's a standard. We have a problem that 20 percent can't. We have a responsibility to that 20 percent," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said.
In its first special report, FierceInstaller analyzes the shifting regulatory plane operators face as they participate in CAF-II. The report also includes a chart depicting the funding each provider accepted, along with the amount of subscribers each is expected to cover. You can read the full report here.