Over 5 million unserved rural homes and businesses in 49 states, along with the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, will get high-speed internet access through the Federal Communications Commission’s Phase I Auction of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, the FCC announced Monday.
About 99.7% of these locations will receive broadband with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second upload and 20 megabits per second download. Over 85% will get gigabit-speed broadband.
“We aimed for maximum leverage of taxpayer dollars and for networks that would meet consumers’ increasing broadband needs, and the results show that our strategy worked,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement.
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A total of 180 bidders won auction support, including cable operators, electric cooperatives, incumbent telephone companies, satellite companies, and fixed wireless providers.
The commission’s structuring of the reverse auction yielded an allocation of $9.2 billion; the total budget for Phase I of RDOF was $16 billion over 10 years. The approximately $6.8 billion left over from Phase I will be rolled into Phase II, which had an initial allocation of $4.4 billion.
In August 2019, FCC proposed to establish the $20.4 billion RDOF program to deliver high-speed internet to rural homes and small businesses that do not have it.
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