Sep 26, 2019 - Science

FCC funds broadband expansion in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

People try to get a cellphone signal in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria took down telecommunications networks

People try to get a signal before a cellular communications tower on the expressway in Dorado, Puerto Rico, in 2017 in the aftermath of Hurricane Maria. Photo: Hector Retamal/AFP/Getty Images.

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved a total of $950 million to bolster broadband networks in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, 2 years after the islands sustained severe damage from Hurricanes Maria and Irma.

Why it matters: Hurricanes can wreak havoc on communications networks, making rescue and recovery efforts even more difficult.

Details: Last year, the FCC doled out more than $60 million to the islands to restore networks after the storms. This next tranche of money is geared toward building "resilient and reliable networks that will stand the test of time," per an FCC press release.

  • $500 million will be allocated over 10 years to Puerto Rico for fixed broadband support, and $250 million over 3 years for mobile support.
  • $180 million over 10 years will go to the U.S. Virgin Islands for fixed broadband, and $4 million over 3 years for mobile.
  • Broadband providers have to apply for the money based on performance, price and resiliency.
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