WASHINGTON — Taking further steps to close the digital divide, the Federal Communications Commission has authorized nearly $124.5 million in support in Nebraska over the next decade for maintaining, improving, and expanding affordable broadband for 9,133 rural homes and businesses in 40 counties.

The authorization in Nebraska was part of a nationwide authorization of over $4.9 billion in support over the next decade for 455,334 homes and businesses served by 171 carriers in 39 states and American Samoa, including 44,243 locations on tribal lands, according to a press release.

The support is targeted to smaller rural carriers, traditionally known as “rate-of-return” carriers. These carriers agreed this year to accept subsidies based on the FCC’s Alternative Connect America Cost Model. The homes and businesses are in sparsely populated rural areas where the per-location price of deployment and ongoing costs of providing broadband service are high, requiring support from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund to facilitate network improvements and keep rates reasonably comparable to those in urban areas.

In return for the support that has been approved, carriers must maintain, improve and expand broadband throughout their service areas, including providing service of at least 25 megabits per second downstream and 3 Mbps upstream to over 363,000 locations, including more than 37,000 locations on tribal lands. Providers will be held accountable through an enforceable schedule for delivering improved and expanded service, with the first interim deployment obligation occurring in 2022.

“Our action today will help close the digital divide and is a win-win for rural Americans and taxpayers, including over 9,100 homes and small businesses in Nebraska,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Carriers get the predictable support they need to deliver broadband to their customers in these high-cost rural areas. And taxpayers, who fund this support through a fee on their phone bills, are getting more bang for their buck.”

Companies in 40 Nebraska counties will receive support.

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