Enlarge /. A CenturyLink delivery truck was parked in Santa Fe, New Mexico on May 2, 2019.
CenturyLink and Frontier Communications have again failed to meet broadband delivery deadlines in dozens of states after receiving money from the Federal Communications Commission.
When the FCC awarded the Connect America Fund Phase II grant in 2015, CenturyLink accepted $ 505.7 million in annual support over a six-year period to provide broadband with 10 Mbps download speeds and 1 Mbit / s upload speed to 1.17 million homes and businesses in 33 states. Frontier accepted $ 283.4 million in annual support over six years to provide services to 659,587 homes and businesses in 28 states.
The deadline to achieve 100 percent of the required deployments was December 31, 2020. Both CenturyLink and Frontier announced to the FCC that they have missed the deadline to end deployments in numerous states.
The porters are not yet punished. As Frontier said in its FCC announcement last Friday, US law gives the ISP "the opportunity until December 31, 2021 to complete its CAF II expansion in those states that still meet the 100 percent milestone has not reached ". The law cited by Frontier states that once an ISP notifies the FCC that it "has not reached a final milestone," the carrier "has twelve months from the date of the final milestone to achieve full compliance." Thereafter, the government can withdraw an amount "equal to 1.89 times the average amount of support per location in the support area" plus 10 percent of the airline's total funding in that area.
CenturyLink and Frontier also failed to meet the intermediate deadlines that expired in late 2019.
Where they came up short
CenturyLink announced to the FCC that its "preliminary year-end data" suggests that the 100 percent deployment milestone in 23 states "may not have been reached". These states are Arkansas, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. CenturyLink said it had hit or exceeded the milestone in 10 states and is "on track" to hit 100 percent in the other states before the end of 2021.
According to Frontier, preliminary data suggests the 100 percent milestone may not have been reached in 17 states. These are Alabama, Arizona, California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, and West Virginia. Frontier said it hit or exceeded the milestone in eight states.
Frontier expects to hit 100 percent in all states by June 30, 2021 "with the exception of Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico, where Frontier has faced extraordinary delays in approval requiring a waiver of the provisional deployment milestone." Frontier justified it in 2019. Frontier expects this to complete deployments in Arizona, Utah, and New Mexico by September 30, 2021. "CenturyLink and Frontier have not specified exactly how far they should be from 100 percent deployment however, provide the FCC with further details by March 1st.
Texas wasn't part of Frontier's original funding, which was given in 2015, but Frontier bought Verizon's landline in that state in 2016. Frontier sold its network assets in four states – Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington – to Ziply Fiber in May 2020. Ziply announced to the FCC that the necessary upgrades in Idaho, Montana and Oregon have been completed. Ziply said it completed 96.13 percent of construction in Washington and believes it will finish the rest by February 16.
ISPs get more money
The Connect America Fund and other universal utilities operated by the FCC are paid for by Americans through fees that are placed on phone bills. CenturyLink and Frontier are both getting more money from the FCC in the new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, with CenturyLink receiving $ 262.4 million over 10 years and Frontier receiving $ 370.9 million over 10 years.
Senator Shelley Moore Capito (RW.Va.) recently called on the FCC to block Frontier's new funding. "Frontier has a documented pattern of history showing that FCC deadlines for completing Phase II support for the Connect America Fund in West Virginia will not be met." "Frontier, which is in bankruptcy, said FCC said it would get out of bankruptcy with $ 10 billion less debt in March or April and have a plan to "continue its ongoing and completed major investments in local fiber" and transform it into a stronger service provider. "
As mentioned in the previous coverage, former FCC chairman Ajit Pai has awarded the new funding weeks before leaving the agency, although the FCC has not yet collected more accurate deployment data that will help target funding to areas where it is needed most. The day before Pai left, a non-partisan group of 157 members of Congress sent a letter calling on the FCC to ensure that each ISP funded has the technical, financial, managerial, operational, skills, and resources to do what it is have agreed to provide the services provided. "