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FairPoint, Connect America To Expand Internet Access Across 14 States

FairPoint Communications Inc. accepted over 37.4 million in annual funding from Connect America to expand Internet connections to rural customers. Although it is not true broadband Internet under the new definition, it still significantly expands the potential of these rural areas by giving them Internet access at reasonable speeds.

In rural America, Internet access continues to be a scarce resource. The population density is rather low relative to the rest of the nation, so Internet service providers (ISPs) have been hesitant to expand their services to these areas. The relatively small customer base and the cost of maintaining the network infrastructure make rural areas less lucrative for ISPs. This is similar to the expansion of telephone service to these areas, which remained relatively small until government support for maintaining the networks was provided.

As a result of these problems, many people living in rural America do not have access to the Internet, and even with programs like the Connect America Fund, ISPs have been slow to expand into these areas. The $37,430,669 accepted by FairPoint allows the company to improve this situation by providing Internet service at speeds of at least 10 Mbps down and 1 Mbps up to 105,000 homes and businesses across 14 states.

"FairPoint's decision to accept support from the Connect America Fund will greatly benefit its rural customers by expanding robust broadband in their communities," said FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler. "The Connect America Fund is delivering on its promise of ensuring that all Americans have access to the opportunities provided by modern broadband service, no matter where they live."

Although this fits the old definition of broadband, and by today's standards it isn't considered a fast Internet connection, the initiative still looks to be a boon to people living in these areas. Many people who do live in more densely populated areas receive Internet service at similar speeds and manage to use it for education, business and entertainment just fine. For these users, having faster Internet certainly would be nice, but at least this helps to bring some people living in rural America up to a similar level of Internet access that the rest of the U.S. enjoys.

This is only the first step in growing Internet access in the United States. Over the next six years, Connect America will move to phase two of its plans, providing over $10 billion to companies in order to expand broadband-capable networks everywhere in the U.S. where there are currently none.

It is great to see that Internet access is being improved in the United States, but it is a little surprising to see that the FCC signed off on the deal when it doesn't really provide broadband Internet service. Most Americans already have Internet, and for those who do have it, faster and more affordable Internet is a greater concern. Having the FCC chairman refer to an Internet service slower than broadband as "broadband" gives the impression that he feels this is sufficient service for companies to provide. Of course, increasing Internet access to more users is a good thing, but improving the performance and cost of Internet nation-wide would have a greater impact on the lives of people in the U.S.

It could be that this was the only way for FCC and FairPoint to come to an agreement, but hopefully it isn't a sign that Wheeler is turning his attention away from improving the performance and affordability of our nations' Internet to focus on basic Internet coverage instead.

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  • digitaldoc
    For a new service, the 10/1 speeds are definitely on the slow side.

    Better than nothing?
    Reply
  • DowneastD
    FairPoint is, without a doubt, the worst company ever put on this planet. Their service is terrible -- in the years since they took over in Maine, they have had to pay penalties for bad service in every month but three. They took 4 tries to install service for me, even though they were just reconnecting the previous tenant's service. In 2013 they got my bill wrong 12 months put of 12, always by different amounts. One month it was over by $110.30; five months later the entire bill was 28 cents -- and they called me and told me my bill would be wrong, and would take 4 months to correct. All of this for identical service with a rate set by the state. The state regulator has 9 customer service reps for complaints; 1 for each of the electric utilities and seven for FairPoint. I have lived with Verizon and Time Warner service and can say that either is at least 100% better. They also have failed to meet or even approach the broadband coverage they promised when they bought Verizon's Northern new England landline business.
    Giving them $37 million is like pouring it on the ground -- during a rainstorm.
    Reply
  • Onus
    The article title says 14 states; ok, which 14??
    Reply
  • IInuyasha74
    The article title says 14 states; ok, which 14??

    Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maine, Missouri, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Vermont, and Washington
    Reply
  • alextheblue
    FairPoint is, without a doubt, the worst company ever put on this planet. Their service is terrible -- in the years since they took over in Maine, they have had to pay penalties for bad service in every month but three. They took 4 tries to install service for me, even though they were just reconnecting the previous tenant's service. In 2013 they got my bill wrong 12 months put of 12, always by different amounts. One month it was over by $110.30; five months later the entire bill was 28 cents -- and they called me and told me my bill would be wrong, and would take 4 months to correct. All of this for identical service with a rate set by the state. The state regulator has 9 customer service reps for complaints; 1 for each of the electric utilities and seven for FairPoint. I have lived with Verizon and Time Warner service and can say that either is at least 100% better. They also have failed to meet or even approach the broadband coverage they promised when they bought Verizon's Northern new England landline business.
    Giving them $37 million is like pouring it on the ground -- during a rainstorm.

    So business as usual for the feds. The 37 million is just a small piece of that pie anyway - they're talking about 10 billion over the next 6 years (though not all to any single company). I've seen a lot of bitching about Fairpoint but most people who use em don't have much alternative. I can't help but feel it would be better to expand LTE networks and continue to tweak LTE for better range.

    "Having the FCC chairman refer to an Internet service slower than broadband as "broadband" gives the impression that he feels this is sufficient service for companies to provide."

    Yeah or it gives the impression that he talks out of both sides of his mouth.
    Reply
  • Baumy15
    dear everyone who said those speeds are slow.
    10/1MBPS is pretty damn fast i pay $60 a month for 8GB internet with 8MBPS down and 800KBPS up and i can download files at about 1.0MB/s and 2.5MB/s. everyone in America and hundreds of other states needs to learn that if you have 15/1MBPS internet you are already faster than the majority of Australian households. but until recently most of Australia will be hokked up to super fast internet (12/1, 25/5, 50/10 and 100/40MBPS) there is fibre (21/1, 25/5, 50/10 and 100/40) wireless broadband (12/1 and 25/5) and satellite (6/0.5) this is what we have to offer please understand that people saying that 10/1 is really slow i would give anything to get speeds like that for a reasonable price.
    Reply
  • BrandonYoung
    Being in rural Washington State where our options are currently dial-up, 10GB/month satellite, and 2 bars of AT&T 4G, I would be quite happy with 10/1mbps assuming its unlimited data. I would actually be able to let the kids use the internet without worrying that my 10GB/month allowance would not be wasted on 2 hours of HD YouTube.
    Reply
  • f-14
    ".... many people living in rural America do not have access to the Internet.."
    exede.com
    SATELLITE INTERNET FTR
    Reply
  • Darkbreeze
    Hell, I'm paying 65 bucks a month to Comcast for an 8mbps connection in Colorado. I think for those who can't get anything faster than dial up, 10mbps is a dream, IF it was from a reliable service provider which Fairpoint clearly is not or at best "toes the line" in that regard.
    Reply
  • synphul
    Satellite internet is a joke in the u.s. (wild blue/hughes net, same service). It's extremely limited and runs on a rolling monthly usage plan. Use the internet for very little but have a day of extremely heavy downloads such as installing win service packs, updating gpu drivers etc. and good luck. You exceed your limit and speeds will be throttled to the point you can't check email for 30 more days until that day of heavy usage falls off the account.

    So you get to pay around $98/mo for little usage (forget youtube and the rest of the internet, farmville was enough to push the usage limits - seriously.) Toward the end of the month you do all the heavy downloading over the course of a day or two, now you get to pay an additional $98 while going without service.

    Currently besides satellite my region offers dialup (around 32.2kbps, can't hack 56k) and 3g. My current download speed according to ookla, 0.42Mbps. No, the decimal isn't an error. Current internet plan costs $40/mo. No dsl, no cable, no fiber. 10/1 would be a serious improvement from the reality of internet speeds in rural america.
    Reply