Puerto Rico and US Virgin Islands telcos get $77 million in FCC aid

The FCC is disbursing $77 million to telecom operators in hurricane-stricken Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. The money will go towards up to seven months of what’s termed “high-cost support” infrastructure to provide service to customers. Shortly before when the money runs out, the commission will determine if more aid is needed.

It’s been more than two weeks since Hurricane Maria made landfall in the territories with Category 4 winds and large storm surge events. Hurricane Irma preceded that cyclone with similar impacts. In a recent evaluation, 95 percent of Puerto Rico is still without reliable power if there is any at all in many towns and that repairs would take at least half a year. The commission estimates that only 11 percent cell sites are working. In the Islands, only 31 percent of sites are active.

Claro Puerto Rico will bear most of the funds along with several other carriers representing the major US networks. Vitelco will get nearly all of the $9.7 million allotment for the Virgin Islands.

Regardless of the set timeframe, if a non-subsidized carrier is able to operate to satisfactory capabilities, the temporary infrastructure will have to shut down within 60 days.

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Jules Wang
Jules Wang is News Editor for Pocketnow and one of the hosts of the Pocketnow Weekly Podcast. He came onto the team in 2014 as an intern editing and producing videos and the podcast while he was studying journalism at Emerson College. He graduated the year after and entered into his current position at Pocketnow, full-time.