The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) is now expected to give applicants in 47 states more than $6 billion, according to a statement from the FCC today, despite the well-publicized denials.
The 180 bids received the initial $9.2 billion award from the Pai FCC.
The potential funding of more than $1.3 billion from fixed wireless carrier LTD Broadband was also rejected by the FCC. The FCC states that it evaluates each proposal “to determine whether they meet all legal, financial, and technical requirements” before making a funding decision.
In the new round of funding, NextLink Internet (also known as AMG Technology Investment Group) will receive money for Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, Wisconsin, and Wyoming. GeoLinks will receive money for Arizona and Nevada, Starry (also known as Connect Everyone) will receive money for Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Illinois, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and West Virginia’s GigaBeam Networks, Nevada’s Safelink Internet, and Virginia’s Shenandoah Cable Television.
By September 15, the ISPs must submit letters of credit and an opinion letter regarding the Bankruptcy Code to certify the funding. As the FCC today also disclosed a list of census blocks where those ISPs defaulted on bidding, GeoLinks, Starry, and Shenandoah Cable Television would not receive what they initially won in the reverse auction. Another bidder who defaulted was Monster Broadband.
The Universal Service Fund, which is funded by fees on phone bills paid by Americans, is a source of funding for the FCC’s RDOF. The NTIA financing, in contrast, was decided upon by Congress and President Biden in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act of November 2021.
In Arizona, five Tribal governments will receive grants totaling $105.8 million from the NTIA, which is a division of the Department of Commerce, to link more than 33,300 residences. 25 Tribal groups have received $634.7 million from the NTIA, which is added to other projects that were approved earlier in August.
Five new internet projects that will be funded by the American Rescue Plan’s Coronavirus Capital Projects Fund were yesterday announced by the Treasury Department. For example, $47.5 million will be used to connect 5,500 homes and businesses in Arkansas, $40.8 million will be used to connect 10,000 homes and businesses in Connecticut, $187 million will be used to connect 50,349 homes and businesses in Indiana, $87.7 million will be used to connect 21,000 homes and businesses in Nebraska, and $45 million will be used to connect 3,965 homes and businesses in North Dakota.
While North Dakota “plans to collaborate with tribal organizations to identify solutions to address specific connectivity needs,” four states are planning competitive grant programs to disperse the funds.
The identical financing has already been authorized by the Treasury Department for broadband initiatives in eight other states. The FCC’s Affordable Connectivity Program, which offers households that meet the eligibility standards for income up to $30 per month, will be a condition for all providers who get the funding. Many people will benefit from free Internet as a result.
The $42.45 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) initiative from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is the largest broadband fund overall, but it has a longer schedule. The NTIA is disbursing that money, but it won’t be made available until the FCC completes a significant project to update the map showing where providers offer and don’t offer broadband. The updated map will be available this fall, according to Rosenworcel.
The NTIA is giving out planning grants to assist states in preparing. According to an NTIA announcement made today, all 50 states and six territories submitted applications for them, with Louisiana becoming the first to be granted one. With the $2.9 million award, Louisiana will be able to, among other things, identify underserved and unserved areas, engage the community, provide employee training, conduct surveys to better understand adoption barriers, and create a Statewide Digital Equity Plan.