FCC Seeks Comment on Terms of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

Comments due September 20, 2019, Reply Comments due October 21, 2019

Last month the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on the terms of a critical next step in its high-cost program, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”).  The FCC proposes to commit a total of $20.4 billion over 10 years to bring broadband at minimum speeds of 25/3 Mbps to areas that are wholly unserved or partially served.

The FCC proposes to award funding in two phases through multi-round, reverse, descending clock auctions with weighting that favors faster services and lower latency and that encourages intermodal competition.  The proposed performance tiers are 25/3 Mbps and 150 GB monthly usage, 100/20 Mbps and 2 TB monthly usage, and 1 Gbps/500 Mbps and 2 TB monthly usage.  The FCC proposes public interest obligations, including service milestones and reporting obligations, similar to those in the Connect America Fund Phase II (“CAF II”) auction, but also considers additional performance targets such as subscribership milestones.  The FCC contemplates reserve prices for bidding, with some possible variations from those used in the CAF II auction, and a tribal bidding credit.  The proposed application and eligibility processes are also similar to that used in the CAF II auction.

Please contact Greg Whiteaker [email protected], Dee Herman [email protected], or Robin Tuttle [email protected] if your company is interested in participating in this rulemaking or if you would like to learn more about RDOF funding opportunities and to be kept apprised about the development of this proposed auction.