FCC Announces Rollout of More than $311 Million for Rural Broadband Deployment

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is ready to authorize the first round of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) funding across 36 states, a press release issued on Monday said. As previously reported, the RDOF is a federal pool that uses monies to help close the digital divide by enabling high-speed broadband network deployment in underserved and rural areas within and outside the continental United States.

This week’s announcement represents the first approval of RDOF funding that is forecasted to bring 1 Gbps broadband speeds to almost 200,000 homes and businesses over the next 10 years, the press release stated. The FCC also said that it has taken action to “clean up” problems stemming from the program’s original design and adoption last year. 

The commission explained that it received complaints that the program was going to fund broadband internet for parking lots and well-served urban areas. In response, the FCC reportedly sent letters to the nearly 200 winning broadband providers offering them an “opportunity to withdraw their funding requests from those places already with service or where significant questions of waste have been raised.”

According to the news release, the commission has also made clear its intolerance for any provider that is not serious about offering broadband service or that has not made proper efforts to secure state-level approvals. The FCC reportedly rejected requests to waive program deadlines from AB Indiana in Florida and LTD Broadband in California, Oklahoma, and Kansas in view of their failure to timely act on this front.

Finally, the FCC released a preliminary list of geographic areas where winning bidders have elected not to build out. Accordingly, the press release said, these areas will immediately become available for other broadband funding opportunities while the defaulting bidders may be subject to enforcement penalties.