FCC Resolves Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Reconsideration Petitions Ahead of Bidding

Phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (Auction 904) is scheduled to commence on October 29, 2020. The Federal Communications Commission laid out its approach for determining the census blocks eligible for Phase I support and established a limited challenge process for parties to identify, in part, areas that had 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 a formal commitment has been executed. The Illinois Office of Broadband and the Vermont Department of Public Service sought reconsideration of this aspect of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Order and asked the FCC to reconsider its approach to partnering with states that have broadband funding programs. The Illinois Office of Broadband also asked the FCC to increase the minimum speeds it will support in Auction 904 to 50/5 Mbps. Heartland Telecommunications Company (Premier Communications) sought clarification regarding the eligibility of areas for Phase II of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. 

But, for the reasons set out in this Public Notice, the FCC finds insufficient grounds to reconsider its decisions regarding the eligibility of certain census blocks or the minimum performance tier for Auction 904. The FCC does, however, clarify certain aspects regarding the eligibility of areas for Phase II of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

"There are fundamental flaws with the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund," said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. "Regrettably, this decision does not repair them. It only doubles down."

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction (Auction 904); Rural Digital Opportunity Fund; Connect America Fund