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Federal Communications Commission Approves $76.9 Million To Rebuild Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico Communications Infrastructure Following Devastation of Irma And Maria

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acted in bipartisan fashion in voting unanimously to approve $76.9 million in relief funds to restore communications in the Virgin Islands and Puerto after Hurricanes Irma and Maria.

The money will go toward restoring service across the island territories.

The initiative will immediately provide carriers with up to seven months of support from the FCC’s Universal Service Fund, which helps lower the cost of deploying service in areas that are costly to serve.

Any of the funds can be used to repair telecom infrastructure and restore service to customers.

Maria landed with full force on Sept. 19-20, wiping out service at most cell sites and leaving nearly all consumers without either cable or wireline services.

Just as the overall recovery effort has been bogged down by logistics, as of the beginning of this month about 67 percent of cell sites remained out of service in the Virgin Islands and 88 percent out of service in Puerto Rico, according to the commission.

The FCC said its staff will help coordinate network repair activities to ensure that the greatest coverage is available to the most people.

The regulatory body also saw its Republican Chairman Ajit Pai approved for another five-year term this month.

The FCC is an independent agency of the United States government that regulates radio,  television, wire, satellite, and cable communications.

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The Author

John McCarthy

John McCarthy

John McCarthy is primarily known for his investigative reporting on the U.S. Virgin Islands. A series of reports beginning in the 1990's revealed that there was everything from coliform bacteria to Cryptosporidium in locally-bottled St. Croix drinking water, according to a then-unpublished University of the Virgin Islands sampling. Another report, following Hurricane Hugo in 1989, cited a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) confidential overview that said that over 40 percent of the U.S. Virgin Islands public lives below the poverty line. The Virgin Islands Free Press is the only Caribbean news source to regularly incorporate the findings of U.S. Freedom of Information Act requests. John's articles have appeared in the BVI Beacon, St. Croix Avis, San Juan Star and Virgin Islands Daily News. He is the former news director of WSVI-TV Channel 8 on St. Croix.

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