CAF II expansion brings broadband internet access to rural residents
What began nearly four years ago as ideas and conversations about expanding high-speed internet service in rural Lincoln County, has now become a reality county-wide.
Since the spring of 2017, upgraded network infrastructure continues to establish accessibility to some of the most remote areas of the county. The expansion of broadband internet service comes on the heels of the Connect America Fund Phase II project (CAF II), which kicked off in the northern portion of the county in 2017, and proceeded into southern Lincoln County last spring.
Locally, the project is being piloted by Frontier Communications, one of a handful of nationwide telephone and DSL internet service providers, who received millions in funding from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2015, to carry out the expansion. On June 6, 2015, Frontier announced it would accept $283 million ($283,401,855) in CAF II funding from the FCC. In turn, Frontier agreed to bring broadband internet service to more than 1.3 million households in 28 states. As reported by the FCC in June of 2015, $1,525,879 was to be invested for Lincoln County alone, with a projected reach of 3,830 homes and businesses supported. According to information recently released by Frontier, it seems that goal has already been surpassed and work is far from complete.
“Exceeding CAF program completion targets, Frontier completed upgrades through Dec. 31 to bring broadband access to 3,937 households in Lincoln County, and additional nearby locations.,” explains Javier Mendoza, Frontier Communications Vice-President of Corporate Communications and External Affairs. “The work will continue for the next two years until 100 percent of eligible locations are completed.”
633 of those households were reached as part of the Tomahawk area expansion in 2017. Over the course of the 2018 construction season, the expansion reached 3,304 households in southern Lincoln County and the Merrill area. In addition to upgraded DSL internet network infrastructure, the project also included the installation of 29 remote DSL terminals in southern Lincoln County. Seven terminals were installed as part of the Tomahawk area expansion in 2017.
As explained by Frontier during an interview with the Merrill Foto News last May, customers within a two- road mile radius of each terminal can expect to receive minimum of 10 mbps (megabytes per second) download speed and 1 mbps upload speeds. Higher speeds may be available, pending on proximity of a household to a terminal.
“10/1 Mbps broadband is fast enough for essential activities like remote work, homework, and tele-health, and fast enough to stream two HD-video streams simultaneously,” Mendoza adds. Although Mendoza indicated work is planned to resume sometime this year, he declined to give specifics; indicating schedules will vary depending on projects and areas. While the project’s intent is to reach as many rural households possible. some areas of the county may not be reached. According to Mendoza, the FCC makes funding available in specific areas where it determines it is economically viable for a carrier to provide broadband service. The locations targeted for upgrades are determined by the FCC program, not by Frontier.
Residents interested in learning more about the CAF II broadband expansion, availability and pricing are asked to contact Frontier Communications at 1-800-921-8101 for residential service, and 1-800-821-8102 for businesses service.