WASHINGTON — Taking further steps to close the digital divide, the Federal Communications Commission today authorized nearly $705.5 million in support in South Dakota over the next decade for maintaining, improving, and expanding affordable broadband for 55,089 rural homes and businesses.
The authorization in South Dakota 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.
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, or A-CAM, which provides predictability, rewards efficiency, and provides more value for each taxpayer dollar. 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 is being approved today, 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 nationwide, 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.
Following is a list of area South Dakota counties where companies will receive support with 10-year support amounts:
• Bon Homme County — Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, $12,170,878
• Charles Mix County — Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, $3,179,703; Midstate Communications (SD), $15,894,678
• Douglas County — Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, $6,507,301; Midstate Communications (SD), $4,719,234
• Hutchinson County — Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, $13,674,662; Midstate Communications (SD), $96,000; TrioTel Communications, $1,514,254
• Union County — Alliance Communications Cooperative, $4,092,966
• Yankton County — Golden West Telecommunications Cooperative, $6,192,737