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TEC To Deliver Broadband Internet Service To Rural Areas

TEC will receive $6.6 million of FCC funding to bring faster and improved Internet service to underserved areas of Alabama, Mississippi and Tennessee.

TEC will be delivering increased broadband service to a majority of the company’s wireline locations in Mississippi, Tennessee and Alabama thanks to a 10-year, $6.6 million annual cash infusion from the FCC high-cost universal service program, the company announced yesterday. TEC is one of about 200 rural rate-of-return carriers that have committed to building out broadband service at specific speeds to a particular number of locations, based on the alternative Connect America model (A-CAM).

“TEC’s broadband support through the FCC’s A-CAM program will enable our company to upgrade service to more than 18,000 homes in 3 states,” TEC Executive Vice President Joey F. Garner said.

TEC’s current build-out requirements call for upgrading service to homes that cannot get broadband today or can only get low-speed broadband. The majority of these homes will receive service at speeds of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream, with homes that are more remotely located receiving speeds of 10/1 Mbps, and a few 4/1 Mbps.

A-CAM is part of the Connect America Fund, designed to ensure that consumers in rural, insular, and high-cost areas have access to modern communications networks capable of providing voice and broadband service, both fixed and mobile, at rates that are reasonably comparable to those in urban areas. The program fulfills this universal service goal by allowing eligible carriers who serve these areas to recover some of their costs from the federal Universal Service Fund.

Carriers opting to receive funding based on the A-CAM model are required to meet specific rural broadband buildout schedules. An FCC public notice released earlier includes a list of all carriers that accepted revised A-CAM offers, along with the amount accepted and buildout requirements.

The total number of carriers now authorized to receive A-CAM support is 207 and the total amount of support to be issued over a 10-year period is $5.283 billion.