FCC clears way for another 466 winning RDOF bids

Another 466 winning bids from phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) have been blessed by the FCC.

Approval means the FCC has reviewed and authorized the long-form information for the winning bids. Financial support will be distributed in 120 monthly payments, starting at the end of this month. Per the current milestone schedule, winning bidders must complete 40% of the locations in a state by December 31, 2024; 60% by December 31, 2025; 80% by December 31, 2026; and 100% by December 31, 2027.

Companies and organizations getting the stamp this time included:

  • BEK Communications Cooperative (North Dakota)
  • Clay County Connect (Arkansas)
  • Connect 2 First Internet (Arkansas)
  • Cumberland Connect (Tennessee)
  • Easton Utilities Commission (Maryland)
  • Farmers Mutual Telephone (Minnesota)
  • Gibson Connect (Kentucky and Tennessee)
  • New Ops Communications (Texas)
  • PGEC Enterprises (Virginia)
  • Pine Cellular Phones (Oklahoma)
  • Point Broadband Fiber Holding (Alabama, Georgia, Michigan, New York, Virginia)
  • RC Technologies (South Dakota)
  • Union Telephone Company (Wyoming).

Winning bids ran the gamut. For example, Point Broadband Fiber Holdings, which had dozens of winning bids, went both high with $2.8 million covering 909 locations across 115 census blocks in parts of Alabama, and low with just $1,416 for one location and one census block for a smidgen of Michigan.

This round of approvals and another one handed down almost nine weeks ago represent a small piece of the $9.2 billion that was originally allocated for phase I of the RDOF auction.

In July, the FCC approved about $311 million in RDOF payments across almost 50 broadband providers, along with a pledge to "clean up" certain aspects of the program.

Some of that clean-up stems from complaints that the program was "poised to fund broadband to parking lots and well-served urban areas." Tied in, the FCC sent letters to almost 200 phase I auction winners, including Elon Musk's SpaceX/Starlink, Cox Communications, Charter Communications, Frontier Communications, Windstream and CenturyLink, that provides them a chance to withdraw their funding requests from areas already served by broadband or "where significant questions of waste have been raised."

The FCC noted in its public notice that it will soon post a state-level summary at this web site that, among other things, will provide for each long-form application the total support amount over 10 years and the total number of locations that the long-form application is being authorized for in each state.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

A version of this story first appeared on Broadband World News.

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