The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has authorized $554 million for broadband deployment through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
The $554 million is part of the third round of funding, and combined with the first two rounds of funding already announced, the FCC has announced a total of $1 billion in funding for that purpose. As part of the latest funding wave, the FCC said 11 broadband providers will bring fiber-to-the-home gigabit broadband service to over 180,000 locations in 19 states.
“This is good news for consumers waiting far too long for broadband in parts of the country that have yet to be served,” said FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Broadband is an essential service and during the pandemic, we’ve seen just how critical it is for families, schools, hospitals, and businesses to have affordable internet access. Thanks to the hard work of our dedicated FCC staff who are carefully reviewing applications and working to clean up the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, this program will build new broadband infrastructure in areas that truly need it.”
The 19 states receiving funding are Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, New Mexico, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, and Wisconsin.
In a press release, the FCC said it is continuing to work to ensure that funding only supports providers that comply with program requirements. These ongoing efforts continue the agency’s work to clean up the program to ensure that funding goes to unserved areas that need broadband. As part of that clean-up process, the FCC said it has taken a number of actions, 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 5,094 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 more than $344 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.