FCC Establishes $20.4 Billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to Bring Broadband to Unserved and Underserved Areas

Yesterday, the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) voted to establish the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”), which will distribute $20.4 billion over 10 years to support high-speed broadband deployment in rural, unserved areas through a two-phase reverse auction mechanism.  RDOF’s Phase I will begin later this year and will make up to $16 billion available to target census blocks that are wholly unserved with fixed broadband at speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps, as determined by existing FCC data. Funds will be allocated through a multi-round, reverse auction, similar to the Connect America Fund Phase II auction, which will use a tiered system that favors bids to deploy service at higher speeds with lower latency, and greater usage allowances.  Phase II of RDOF will have a budget of $4.4 billion and will target those areas that are deemed partially served based on the revised data collected in the FCC’s Digital Opportunity Data Collection “mapping” initiative, as well as any areas not won in the first phase.

The final rules for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund have not yet been made public. We will provide additional details regarding the funding and application process once the Commission’s final order is released, which should be in the coming days. Please contact Dee Herman ([email protected]), Robin Tuttle ([email protected]) or Clare Liedquist Andonov ([email protected]) if your company is interested in more information regarding the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund or would like assistance with the funding process.