The Federal Communications Commission has authorized $8.5 million in funding for broadband to be expanded in Albany County to 8,179 remote and rural locations.
The funding for Albany County accounts for most of the $9.3 million the FCC approved for Wyoming broadband in December.
Ten other Wyoming counties also received some funding, though the average sum for those counties is $85,160.
Albany County is receiving almost a tenth of the entire funding the FCC is investing nationwide in this round of Connect America Fund Phase II projects.
Satellite provider Viasat is responsible for using the funding to provide service to the homes and businesses in Wyoming, using speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps.
“Albany County’s support is based on the number of locations in the area without options for voice and adequately-advanced broadband service (at least 10/1 Mbps),” FCC spokesman Will Wiquist told the Laramie Boomerang in an email. “The Commission then set up an auction and took bids from providers to receive federal support to serve locations in those census blocks. Auction participants could bid to offer service at different speed and latency tiers, with speeds starting at 10/1 Mbps going up to 1 Gbps.”
Wiquist said Viasat offered coverage for Wyoming at the best price.
In return for the funding, Viasat will need to provide the service at lower costs to consumers than typical while also permitting high usage allowances. Wiquist said the prices will need to be “reasonably comparable to the rates for similar service in urban areas” using the FCC’s Urban Rate Survey.
Viasat will need to file annual reports, and Wiquist said that “failure to meet the terms and conditions of support can result in increased reporting obligations and possible withholding and/or recovery of support.”
“In Wyoming and across the nation, we’re continuing to close the digital divide so that all Americans — no matter where they live — have access to affordable broadband connectivity and the digital opportunity it brings,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a press release.
In total, the Connect America Fund Auction allocated $1.5 billion in support over the next ten years to expand broadband to more than 700,000 rural homes and businesses nationwide. $28 million of that funding has been authorized for Wyoming to bring connectivity to 16,096 homes and businesses in the state.
Providers must build out to 40% of the assigned homes and businesses in the areas won in a state within three years. Buildout must increase by 20% in each subsequent year, until complete buildout is reached at the end of the sixth year.