Funding allocated to expand broadband on way

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WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- Money that was allocated last year for expanding rural broadband access across Virginia is now on its way.

The Federal Communications Commission announced this week that nearly $37 million has been authorized, for use over the next decade, from the Connect America Fund Phase II auction.

According to a release, providers will begin receiving the money, which will help nearly 13,900 unserved Virginians get broadband, this month.

Last year's auction allocated $1.488 billion across the country, which will help more than 700,000 unserved rural homes and small businesses over the next ten years.

“I'm pleased to announce that funding starts now for buildout of high-speed Internet service to nearly 13,900 rural Virginia homes and businesses, which will bring them to the right side of the digital divide and give them access to the 21st century opportunities that broadband offers,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Providers will be deploying gigabit-speed connections to all the locations for which funding is being authorized, making cutting-edge broadband available to these rural consumers.”

Locally, several counties are going to benefit from these funds.

The largest chunk is going to Nelson County, which was allocated $8,790,729.

Louisa County is getting $1,785,103, while Albemarle County is getting $722,495 and Orange County will get $136,070. Fluvanna County is also getting $110,489 from the allocation.

The release says providers must build out to 40 percent of the assigned homes and businesses in the areas won in a state within three years. That buildout must then increase by 20 percent in each subsequent year until it is completed at the end of the sixth year.

The Connect American Fund Phase II auction was part of a broader effort to close the digital divide.

Other funding is also being to companies and incentives are being offered to hundreds of rural carriers to upgrade existing systems and provide faster broadband service to homes and businesses.

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