The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it is ready to authorize $1,041,074,000 over 10 years in its fifth round of funding for new broadband deployments through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. This marks the largest funding wave to date.
The FCC said that 69 broadband providers will bring broadband service to 518,088 locations in 32 states as part of this funding round.
“This latest round of funding will open up even more opportunities to connect hundreds of thousands of Americans to high-speed, reliable broadband service,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Today’s actions reflect the hard work we’ve put in over the past year to ensure that applicants meet their obligations and follow our rules. With thoughtful oversight, this program can direct funding to areas that need broadband and to providers who are qualified to do the job.”
In a press release, the FCC said it also continues to ensure auction applicants meet financial requirements and that funding is directed to areas that need broadband. The FCC specifically noted that it denied Hotwire’s waiver request and rejected its long-form application because it entered into a transaction in violation of program rules. Additionally, the Commission announced several defaulted bids, making the census blocks in those defaulted bids potentially eligible for other funding programs.
Over the past year, the FCC said has taken several actions to strengthen its oversight of the program, including:
- “Sending letters to 197 applicants concerning areas where there was evidence of existing service or questions of waste. Bidders have already chosen not to pursue support in approximately 5,000 census blocks in response to the Commission’s letters.
- Denying waivers for winning bidders that have not made appropriate efforts to secure state approvals or prosecute their applications. These bidders would have otherwise received approximately $350 million.
- Publishing a list of areas where providers had defaulted, thereby making those places available for other broadband funding opportunities.
- Conducting an exhaustive technical, financial, and legal review of all winning bidders.”