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a modest proposal

FCC proposes nearly $1 billion to restore hurricane-damaged networks in Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands

The Federal Communications Commission wants to redirect efforts to help the hurricane-damaged U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico, proposing that $954 million go towards restoring and expanding broadband networks on the islands ahead of the 2018 hurricane season.

The plan, published Tuesday by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, proposes spending $64 million on short-term restoration projects, like repairing power lines and building temporary cell sites, as well as $890 million more to repair and expand broadband connectivity and bolster data technology.

About $256 million of this proposed funding would come as entirely new funds from the FCC's Universal Service Fund, which is supported by all telecommunications service providers. The rest would come from "repurposing" existing funds that are already being directed to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, the agency explained.

About 95 percent of cell sites in Puerto Rico and 75 percent in the U.S. Virgin Islands were knocked out of service after the Caribbean was hit hard by Hurricanes Maria and Irma last fall, Reuters reports. More than five months later, data from the Department of Energy shows that around 12.5 percent of Puerto Ricans are still without power.