FCC Order Creates $20 Billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

Money Dollar Sign Piggy BankThe Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued an order creating a $20 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

The Fund is intended to help close the digital divide by advancing the deployment of broadband.

Route Fifty reports:

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will help internet service providers deploy broadband over 10 years to areas currently lacking service of at least 25 megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload speeds. The federal agency estimates about six million rural homes and businesses are located in areas that could benefit from the initiative.

An FCC Fact Sheet outlines provisions of the order establishing the fund:

  • Establish the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, using competitive bidding to target up to $20.4 billion over ten years to support up to gigabit speed broadband networks in areas that lack access to 25/3 Mbps broadband service and connect the most Americans in a cost-effective manner;
  • Allocate up to $16 billion in Phase I for support targeting census blocks that Commission data show are clearly unserved by 25/3 Mbps broadband service and at least $4.4 billion in Phase II for unserved locations in partially served census blocks and areas not won in Phase I;
  • Encourage the deployment of networks that will stand the test of time, including those providing gigabit connections, by:
    • Increasing the minimum speed to 25/3 Mbps from the 10/1 Mbps used in the Connect America Fund Phase II auction;
    • Prioritizing support for services with faster speeds and low latency;
    • Once the reverse auction hits the clearing price, allocating support in each area to the bidder in the faster speed tier when there is more than one bid to serve that area;
  • Require winning bidders in Phase I to offer the supported broadband and voice service to all eligible homes and small businesses within the awarded areas, subsequently identified by the Wireline Competition Bureau;
  • Prioritize support going to areas entirely lacking even 10/1 Mbps broadband as well as rural Tribal areas.

For more information:

FCC Approves $20 Billion Rural Broadband Funding Plan (Route Fifty)

Fact Sheet and Order Establishing Rural Broadband Digital Opportunity Fund (FCC)