HARRISBURG — The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission on Thursday approved petitions from CenturyTel Broadband Services LLC and Windstream Communications Inc. concerning the respective companies’ status as Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs) in Pennsylvania — enabling the companies to access federal high-cost support funding awarded through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase 1 Auction.

The fund is a federally operated program through the Federal Communications Commission and the FCC’s latest initiative to build on efforts to bring robust, affordable voice and broadband services to America’s unserved and underserved rural areas. Through this auction, the FCC awarded up to $923 million annually for 10 years to winning bidders committed to providing voice and fixed broadband Internet services (BIAS) to unserved, high-cost areas, including Pennsylvania.

The Commission voted 3-0 to grant the petitions of CTBS and Windstream, both of which are now eligible to receive federal high-cost support funding assigned through the recent RDOF Phase 1 Auction. Under federal law, winning bidders in RDOF Phase I Auction must obtain a high-cost ETC designation from the PUC that covers its winning bid areas before receiving any federal universal service fund support to build voice and broadband networks and provide related services in the RDOF-eligible high-cost areas of the Commonwealth.

Specifically, CTBS has been designated as a high-cost ETC in 126 individual RDOF-eligible census blocks in Pennsylvania so that its parent company CenturyLink may certify to the FCC that it has received designation as a high-cost ETC in all the eligible census blocks in Pennsylvania where it had submitted winning bids and has been awarded Auction 904 support.

Additionally, Windstream Communications has been designated as a high-cost ETC in 345 RDOF-eligible census block groups in Pennsylvania where Windstream Services had been awarded RDOF Phase I high-cost funding support by the FCC in Auction 904. With its ETC designation approval by the Commission, Windstream Communications can now serve those eligible high-cost areas in Pennsylvania where its parent company, Windstream Services LLC, currently does not have an ETC designation.

Following the FCC’s decision to conduct reverse auctions to distribute federal high-cost support, the Commission has now granted thirteen ETC designations in Pennsylvania – with CTBS and Windstream Communications joining Zito Mifflin LLC; Starlink Services LLC; Youngsville Television Corporation d/b/a Blue Fiber Corporation and Connect Everyone LLC (doing business as Starry); the PA Frontier Companies; Claverack Communications LLC; Time Warner Cable Information Services (Pennsylvania) LLC; Centre WISP Venture Company LLC; Velocity.Net Communications, Inc.; Armstrong Telecommunications, Inc. (ATI) and Tri-Co Connections LLC – as current ETCs along with the Commonwealth’s incumbent local exchange carrier telephone companies (ILECs).

A total of 13 bidders in Pennsylvania will receive $368.7 million over the next 10 years to bring high speed internet service to homes and businesses to 184,505 locations that are underserved, or do not have access to broadband that meets current federal standards.

Trending Food Videos