FCC Chairman Proposes $20B in Rural Broadband Funding
Thursday, January 09, 2020 | Comments

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai presented his colleagues with final rules to launch a $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The rules, which will be voted on by the commission at its Jan. 30 open meeting, would establish a two-phased process to provide funding for the deployment of high-speed broadband in areas of the United States where there is not fixed broadband service that meets the FCC’s minimum speed standard 25/3 Megabits per second (Mbps).

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund would allocate $20.4 billion through a reverse-auction format to connect millions of rural homes and small businesses to high-speed broadband networks. For phase one, FCC would target $16 billion to areas that are wholly unserved by such broadband. For phase two, the FCC would use its new broadband mapping approach, called the Digital Opportunity Data Collection, to target unserved households in areas that are partially served by such broadband — areas where some households have access to such service but others do not. Phase two would also include areas that do not receive winning bids in phase one.

The FCC estimates 6 million model-determined locations would be eligible for bidding in phase one of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. This figure is subject to change for a variety of reasons, including updated data regarding broadband deployment and construction as well as any modifications made to the draft rules.

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