The Federal Communications Commission has authorized more than $11.5 million in funding from its Connect America Fund over the next decade to expand broadband to nearly 8,000 unserved homes and business in rural parts of Spokane County and the Idaho Panhandle. The provider, Intermax Networks, will begin receiving funding later this month.
To date in Idaho and Washington, the FCC has authorized nearly $23.3 million in funding over the next decade to expand broadband to nearly 12,800 unserved rural homes and businesses. Today’s funding was the seventh round stemming from last year’s successful Connect America Fund Phase II auction.
“The FCC is working hard to expand broadband to places like the Idaho Panhandle and the rural reaches of Spokane County,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “It’s critical that rural citizens have the same access to digital opportunity that their urban counterparts do. I’m pleased that today’s funding will support broadband to nearly 8,000 unserved rural homes and businesses in the region.”
In the region, Intermax would receive in Bonner County would $1,349,162 in support over the 10-year period to expand broadband to 1,064 locations, Boundary County would see $2,996,143 during the 10 years to expand broadband to 853 locations, Kootenai County would see $4,303,255 over the 10-year period to expand broadband to 4,855 locations, Benewah County would see $747,861 over the 10-year period to expand broadband to 357 locations, and Spokane, Wash., would see $2,160,451 to expand broadband to 823 locations.
The funding, which totals $1,556,872 would expand broadband to 7,952 locations in the region.
Providers must build out to 40% of the assigned homes and businesses in the areas won in a state within three years. Buildout must increase by 20% in each subsequent year, until complete buildout is reached at the end of the sixth year.
The Connect America Fund Phase II auction last year allocated $1.488 billion nationwide in support to expand broadband to more than 700,000 unserved rural homes and small businesses over the next 10 years. It is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America. On August 1, the FCC proposed taking its biggest single step to date toward closing the rural digital divide by establishing the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which would direct up to $20.4 billion to expand broadband in unserved rural areas.