FCC Rejects Applications of SpaceX and LTD Broadband for $2.2 Billion in Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Subsidies

Applicants Failed to Meet Program Requirements and Convince FCC to Fund Risky Proposals

WASHINGTON, August 10, 2022 (FCC PR) —The Federal Communications Commission today announced that it is rejecting the long-form applications of LTD Broadband and Starlink to receive support through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund program.  The Commission determined that these applications failed to demonstrate that the providers could deliver the promised service.  Funding these vast proposed networks would not be the best use of limited Universal Service Fund dollars to bring broadband to unserved areas across the United States, the Commission concluded.

“After careful legal, technical, and policy review, we are rejecting these applications.  Consumers deserve reliable and affordable high-speed broadband,” said Chairwoman [Jessica] Rosenworcel.  “We must put scarce universal service dollars to their best possible use as we move into a digital future that demands ever more powerful and faster networks.  We cannot afford to subsidize ventures that are not delivering the promised speeds or are not likely to meet program requirements.”

(more…)

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

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.

FCC Plans to Better Scrutinize RDOF Funding After Free Press Investigation Exposed Questionable and Wasteful Subsidies

Former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

WASHINGTON (Free Press PR) — On Monday, the Federal Communications Commission announced its intention to authorize an initial round of more than $311 million in funding for new broadband deployments. The original series of federal subsidies, based on the lowest bids broadband providers submitted in the auction phase of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), came under heavy scrutiny after Free Press published a six-part investigation. The Free Press reports included exposés of several questionable applicants that sought to bring connectivity to unoccupied parking lots, storage tanks and traffic islands, as well as urban areas that other providers already served.

In response, the FCC has sent letters to 197 winning bidders from 2020, giving each the opportunity to withdraw its funding requests should the money be applied to building out broadband to places already served or “where significant questions of waste have been raised.”

Among recipients of these letters is Elon Musk’s Starlink, the satellite-internet company that won RDOF awards nationwide, including in many densely populated urban areas. The FCC has also denied all funding for AB Indiana, and rejected LTD Broadband’s application to serve in California, Kansas and Oklahoma — representing more than $271 million of the $1.3 billion awarded to the company — due to a failure to secure necessary state-level certifications in a timely fashion.

(more…)

Satellite Companies Can Bid for $9 Billion in Mobile Wireless Subsidies

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Satellite companies will be able to bid for up to $9 billion in subsidies over the next decade under the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) 5G Fund for Rural America if they can meet a high standard for 5G mobile wireless service.

“We believe that adopting a round-trip latency requirement of 100 milliseconds or better for all areas better achieves our goal of ensuring access to services reasonably comparable to those in urban areas,” the FCC said. “One of the key benefits of 5G over other mobile technologies is reduced latency.”

(more…)