FCC chair proposes $1 billion to restore networks in Virgin Islands & Puerto Rico post-hurricanes
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai is proposing $954 million for communications expansion and networks improvement in the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico. The islands are still reeling after hurricanes Irma and Maria last year.
“The FCC’s work is far from over,” Pai said in a statement. “With the 2018 hurricane season less than three months away, we need to take bold and decisive action.” Reuters reported the FCC’s estimation that 14 percent of cell sites in the Virgin Islands remained out of service, in comparison with 4.3 percent in Puerto Rico.
The publication detailed Pai’s vision of $64 million for short-term restoration, $631 million in long-term funding to restore and enlarge fixed broadband and $259 in moderate-term funding to restore and enlarge 4G LTE mobile broadband connections.
The FCC would need to approve the proposal, which would be subsidized by the Universal Service Fund (USF). The USF began as a tool for taxing interstate long-distance carriers to subsidize telephone services in low-income households and high cost areas, but now supports broader communications services. Last October, the FCC approved a mere $77 million in repair aid to these communities.