TOPEKA — The Federal Communications Commission will give AT&T a nearly $19 million grant annually to provide broadband coverage to approximately 35,000 customers in rural Kansas where the economics of high-speed Internet haven’t made sense thus far.
AT&T will receive $18,942,367 from the Connect America Fund annually for the next six years to provide 35,375 households and businesses with broadband Internet access. Nationwide, it will receive $427,706,650 to serve about 2.2 million customers in rural areas.
AT&T wasn’t ready to announce what areas will benefit from the grant as of Thursday. Mike Scott, president of AT&T Kansas, said the grant will go toward serving customers without a “competitive” broadband provider.
“AT&T is committed to rural and small town America, and using all available technologies, including AT&T’s innovative fixed wireless program that delivers broadband through the air using base stations and fixed antennae on customers’ homes or buildings,” Scott said in a statement.
The broadband service will allow downloads at speeds of at least 10 megabits per second and uploads at 1 megabit per second or faster, according to the FCC.
“The financial support provided by American ratepayers will bring significant benefits to AT&T’s rural communities, and we urge state and local leaders to help communities realize these benefits by facilitating the broadband buildout,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement.