Six months after Hurricanes Irma and Maria devastated much of the Caribbean, the FCC is proposing to allocate almost $1 billion to repair the battered and beleaguered telecoms sectors in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands

The US’ Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has proposed a $954 million plan to repair damaged and destroyed telecoms infrastructure in Puerto Rico and The US Virgin Islands, in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria. 

The Caribbean islands’ telecoms infrastructure was ravaged by two major hurricanes in the space of a fortnight. The US Virgin Islands was battered by Hurricane Irma, the most powerful hurricane ever to hit the Caribbean, in early September 2017 – ten days later, Hurricane Maria smashed into the island of Puerto Rico, causing unprecedented levels of destruction. 

Ajit Pai, Chairman of the FCC has proposed creating a $750 million fund for Puerto Rico and a $204 million fund for the US Virgin Islands. 

"The people of Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands are still recovering from last year’s devastating storms. That means the FCC’s work is far from over. After my previous visit to Puerto Rico, I publicly committed to ‘thinking creatively and doing proactively to help restore networks on the island.’ The plan I’ve proposed today would deliver on that commitment and extend that vision even further," said Pai. 

"The plan calls for the FCC to devote almost $1 billion in funding both to the short-term, efficient restoration of service and the long-term improvement and expansion of broadband throughout Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. With the 2018 hurricane season less than three months away, we need to take bold and decisive action. I hope that my fellow commissioners will join me in supporting the creation of the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and Connect USVI Fund," he added. 

Specifically, the plan would include $64 million in additional funding, designed to alleviate short term service problems for both broadband and mobile phones. The package also allocates $259 million for the fast tracking of 4G LTE infrastructure to be rolled out in the two territories. Finally, the proposal allocates $651 million in long term funding for fixed broadband provision in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands.