The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Wednesday proposed creating new funds to restore and improve communications, including LTE networks, in the Caribbean territories ravaged by Hurricane Maria last year.
Ajit Pai said in a statement that a Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund and Connect USVI Fund would dedicate $750 million and $204 million, respectively, to projects in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
The money would include $256 million in new funds; the remainder would be redirected from universal service funding already committed to the islands.
“The people of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still recovering from last year’s devastating storms,” said Pai, who was visiting the territories late this week. “That means the FCC’s work is far from over.”
The proposal would immediately direct $64 million to short-term restoration efforts. An agency status report showed that about 4 percent of cellular sites in Puerto Rico and nearly 14 percent of the sites in the Virgin Islands remained out of service as of Wednesday morning.
The bulk of the proposed funding — $631 million — would target long-term restoration and expansion of fixed broadband connectivity, while $259 million would go toward 4G LTE networks in the territories.
“With the 2018 hurricane season less than three months away, we need to take bold and decisive action,” Pai said.
Filed Under: Infrastructure