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FCC Makes Available Over $163 Million for Broadband in 21 States, While Continuing to Clean Up the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Program

By Doug Messier
Parabolic Arc
October 10, 2021
Filed under , , , ,

WASHINGTON, October 7, 2021 (FCC PR) — The FCC today announced that it is ready to authorize $163,895,636 to 42 providers in the second round of funding for new broadband deployments through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The Commission is also continuing its work to refocus the program to ensure that funding goes to unserved areas that need broadband. As part of that process, 85 winning bidders have chosen not to pursue buildout in 5,089 census blocks in response to letters the FCC sent asking applicants to review their bids in areas where there was evidence of existing service or questions of potential waste.

“More help is on the way to households without broadband,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “This is an important program for getting more Americans connected to high-speed internet, and we are continuing careful oversight of this process to ensure that providers meet their obligations to deploy in areas that need it.”

In this funding wave, 42 broadband providers will bring fiber-to-the-home gigabit broadband to approximately 65,000 locations in 21 states over the next 10 years. The Commission continues to closely review long-form applications of other winning bidders that were previously announced to ensure they meet the technical, financial, and operational capabilities to comply with program obligations.

In July, the Commission sent letters to 197 winning bidders offering providers an opportunity to withdraw their funding requests from places where there was evidence of service or where questions of waste have been raised. In response to these letters, numerous winning bidders have conducted new due diligence on the areas in question, and many have decided not to pursue support in the identified areas.

5 responses to “FCC Makes Available Over $163 Million for Broadband in 21 States, While Continuing to Clean Up the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Program”

  1. Ian Nowland says:

    Or, you know, people could just start getting starlink instead of the Federal Government subsidizing horrible cable companies…

    • Emmet Ford says:

      SpaceX got close to a billion dollars from this program, which spurred howls of outrage from rural collectives that got frozen out by the former guy’s FCC because they were rural collectives, which is a term that clearly has the term “collective” in it.

      • P.K. Sink says:

        Nope. From Techcrunch 12-07-20:

        …Only three other companies garnered more funds: Charter with $1.22 billion; Minnesota and Iowa provider LTD Broadband with $1.32 billion; and utility collective Rural Electric Cooperate Consortium, with $1.1 billion. Those are all traditional wireline-based broadband, and a quick perusal of the list of grantees suggests no other satellite broadband provider made the cut (180 bidders were awarded support in total)…

        Looks like those Dastardly Collectivists did just fine. Don’t be hating on SpaceX and spreading Commie propaganda, Comrade.

        • Emmet Ford says:

          FCC under pressure to deny $886-million subsidy to SpaceX for rural net [Bloomberg via economictimes dot indiatimes dot com]

          San Francisco: The US Federal Communications Commission faces pressure from rural internet service providers to deny a planned $886 million subsidy to Elon Musk’s SpaceX for beaming broadband to underserved areas from outer space.

          SpaceX’s broadband-from-orbit “is a completely unproven technology,” said Jim Matheson, chief executive officer of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, which has members that vied for the funding. “Why use that money for a science experiment?”

          Elon Musk’s SpaceX Riles Its Rivals for Broadband Subsidies [WSJ]

          Rivals of SpaceX for subsidy dollars are calling on the FCC and its new leadership under the Biden administration to give those plans a closer look, and they are drumming up support for their cause on Capitol Hill.

          More than 150 members of Congress wrote the FCC on Jan. 19 urging it “to thoroughly vet the winning bidders to ensure that they are capable” and to “consider opportunities for public input on the applications.”

          The letter, which didn’t mention SpaceX or other companies by name, was subsequently promoted online by two trade groups that have competed for the federal subsidies: the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association and the Rural Broadband Association.

          Parking lots and airports don’t count for rural broadband funding, FCC tells SpaceX [theverge dot com]

          SpaceX’s satellite internet network Starlink won $886 million last December as part of the RDOF program, with 196 other companies also getting a chunk of the $9.2 billion. After the awards, reports from organizations like Competitive Carriers Association, an advocacy group, highlighted widespread flaws and waste with the FCC’s approach. “Pervasive errors in broadband data will soon send hundreds of millions of dollars of Federal broadband subsidies to areas of the country least in need of support,” a May CCA report said.

          ISPs step up fight against SpaceX, tell FCC that Starlink will be too slow [arstechnica]

          More broadband-industry groups are lining up against SpaceX’s bid to get nearly $900 million in Federal Communications Commission funding. Two groups representing fiber and rural Internet providers yesterday submitted a report to the FCC claiming that Starlink will hit a capacity shortfall in 2028, when the satellite service may be required to hit a major FCC deployment deadline.

          The study was commissioned by the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA) and NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association. They are urging the FCC to carefully examine whether SpaceX’s Starlink broadband service should receive money from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which recently awarded SpaceX $885.51 million over 10 years to bring Starlink to 642,925 homes and businesses in 35 states. The funding for SpaceX and other ISPs won’t be finalized until the FCC reviews their long-form applications, which were submitted after the reverse auction.

          SpaceX’s Starlink wins nearly $900 million in FCC subsidies to bring internet to rural areas [cnbc dot com]

          The FCC awarded Elon Musk’s SpaceX with $885.5 million worth of federal subsidies to support rural broadband customers through the company’s Starlink satellite internet network.

          Viasat wants FCC to review Starlink’s government funding [spacenews dot com]

          SpaceX’s share of the $9.2 billion awarded in total under RDOF’s Phase 1 auction was one of the largest among 180 successful bidders. Hughes Network Systems was the only other satellite provider to win funds from the auction, securing under $1.3 million.

    • Lee says:

      Or they could subsidize “horrible” cable companies, and I could get gigabit ethernet much cheaper than I can get it from Starlink, and not have to pay upfront equipment costs.

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