A press release issued on Wednesday by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that the agency is prepared to authorize the fourth round of funding for its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). The latest round brings the FCC’s RDOF total to over $1.7 billion for new broadband deployments in underserved and rural areas within and outside the continental United States.
In July, the FCC rolled out the first round of RDOF funds. This time, the agency explained that 50 broadband providers are set to deliver broadband service to over 400,000 locations in 26 states. According to the press release, the action underscores the agency’s commitment to connecting Americans in outlying communities and closing the digital divide.
The recipient states include Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, the press release said. It explained that the majority of funds will be distributed to “nonprofit rural electric cooperatives” that will provide broadband service in select areas.
Reportedly, the FCC has been working to “clean up” the RDOF in order to ensure that funds target areas most in need and winning bidders meet the program’s technical and other requirements. As part of that effort, the agency allegedly cracked down on applicants where there is evidence of existing service or waste.
In addition, the FCC denied waivers to bidders that did not take the appropriate actions to secure state approvals or complete their applications. The agency also published a list of areas where providers have defaulted, thereby making those places available for other broadband funding opportunities. Finally, it undertook “exhaustive technical, financial, and legal review[s] of all winning bidders” to ensure compliance, the news release said.