FCC Releases Updated List of Eligiable Areas for Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I Auction

  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force, Wireline Competition Bureau, and Office of Economics and Analytics today released a Public Notice announcing a list of 5,392,530 unserved locations deemed eligible for bidding in the $16 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I Auction that begins October 29.  The Public Notice updates a preliminary list released March 17, 2020, which was followed by a limited challenge process.

www.fcc.gov

“We’re on track and on time with our ambitious schedule to move forward as quickly as possible to get funding out to unserved parts of America and close the digital divide,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.  “We’ve designed this auction with incentives for bidders to build high-performance networks in areas that we know don’t have broadband service so we can bring digital opportunity to millions of rural Americans.  Closing the digital divide is my top priority, and it’s even more critical now as so much of American life has moved online, from jobs to telehealth to staying in touch with families and friends.  Today’s announcement provides the information companies need to prepare as we move toward the opening of the window on July 1 for bidders to file their applications to participate in the Phase I auction.”

The Commission conducted a limited challenge process that gave parties an opportunity to identify by April 10, 2020, census blocks that fell into one of three categories: (1) census blocks that have become served with voice and 25/3 Mbps broadband service since June 30, 2019; (2) census blocks that have been awarded funding by a federal or state broadband subsidy to offer broadband service at 25/3 Mbps or better and for which funding has already been paid or committed; and (3) census blocks within a rate-of-return carrier’s service area where it does not expect to extend broadband in satisfaction of its universal service deployment obligations.

Among other decisions, the Task Force, Bureau, and Office denied a challenge filed by Frontier Communications for 16,987 blocks where it claimed it provided service of 25/3 Mbps or better broadband service.  Given the numerous and significant concerns in the record regarding the validity of Frontier’s filing, including its own admission that it had misfiled its June 2019 data, errors in its challenge that it sought to revise, and inconsistent explanations for its challenge, the Commission denied Frontier’s challenge.  The Commission also denied a challenge filed by FDF Communications to exclude 1,664 census blocks in Missouri and 577 blocks in Arkansas from the eligible bidding areas.  Significant concerns were raised in the record about the services that FDF Communications was offering in the areas it challenged.  The Commission rejected other challenges by Arrowhead Electric Cooperation, Inland Telephone Company, Northwest Fiber, Edge Broadband, Mobius Communications Company, and LakeNet LLC that sought to exclude areas from the auction.

In a separate order, the Bureau granted Charter Communications’ waiver request to exclude 2,127 census blocks in New York from the eligible areas list because the company will deploy broadband in those locations pursuant to a settlement reached with the State of New York.  The Task Force, Bureau, and Office also granted most of the challenges that FCC Form 477 filers submitted identifying census blocks that started receiving voice and 25/3 Mbps or better broadband service since June 30, 2019.

The final list of eligible areas will be released no later than three weeks prior to the October 29 start date for bidding.  Commission staff will closely scrutinize auction applications to ensure that all applicants are proposing to use technologies that will be successful in providing mass market retail broadband to consumers to ensure taxpayer funding is not wasted.  Phase II of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will make available at least $4.4 billion, in addition to unallocated funds from Phase I, to target partially served areas using precise, granular broadband coverage data being developed in the Commission’s Digital Opportunity Data Collection proceeding, along with areas not won in the Phase I auction.

Communities and individuals with questions about the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund can contact the FCC’s Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force at ruralbroadband@fcc.gov.  Service providers seeking information about applying to participate in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction can contact Auction904@fcc.gov.

The state-by-state list of updated eligible locations is below:

State Name

Eligible Locations

Alabama

202,369

Arizona

131,949

Arkansas

201,944

California

425,533

Colorado

78,397

Connecticut

3,281

Delaware

7,757

Florida

147,162

Georgia

184,019

Hawaii

8,081

Idaho

40,921

Illinois

166,777

Indiana

162,980

Iowa

55,017

Kansas

46,827

Kentucky

99,315

Louisiana

176,951

Maine

27,967

Maryland

40,406

Massachusetts

29,491

Michigan

253,386

Minnesota

148,718

Mississippi

221,685

Missouri

200,336

Montana

46,156

Nebraska

43,445

Nevada

31,623

New Hampshire

18,243

New Jersey

11,933

New Mexico

64,978

New York

47,024

North Carolina

163,277

North Dakota

3,025

Ohio

191,832

Oklahoma

127,081

Oregon

82,659

Pennsylvania

190,325

Rhode Island

3,428

South Carolina

109,301

South Dakota

10,738

Tennessee

169,750

Texas

310,322

Utah

10,784

Vermont

19,468

Virginia

190,137

Washington

103,155

West Virginia

121,013

Wisconsin

241,341

Wyoming

19,139

 

 

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