Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

Created in 2020 as the successor to Connect America Fund providing up to $20.4 billion over 10 years to connect rural homes and small businesses to broadband networks

Extending Broadband Access in Rural and Native Communities During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond

Representatives of rural and Native communities share stories about the experience of lacking a broadband connection when the service is necessary to work, study, and obtain healthcare, safely. These brief anecdotes illustrate the negative impact that substandard service or lack of service has on the safety and wellbeing of rural and Native communities in general, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. The authors offer the Federal Communications Commission 12 recommendations:

Short-Term Recommendations

FCC's Ajit Pai doubts Elon Musk’s SpaceX broadband-latency claims

While traditional satellite broadband generally suffers from latency of about 600ms, Elon Musk says that SpaceX's Starlink will offer "latency below 20 milliseconds, so somebody could play a fast-response video game at a competitive level." The Federal Communications Commission is not convinced that Starlink broadband network will be able to deliver the low latencies promised.

The FCC has received hundreds of complaints about carriers’ coronavirus pledge

In a statement to the House Commerce Committee, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said the agency has received around 2,200 complaints related to theCOVID-19 pandemic. Of those complaints, 1,400 have received a response from the carrier, Chairman Pai said. Around 500 of those total complaints were filed specifically about the FCC’s Keep Americans Connected Pledge, the agency’s primary response to the pandemic.

FCC Announces Tentative Agenda for June 2020 Open Meeting

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced that the items below are tentatively on the agenda for the June Open Commission Meeting scheduled for Tuesday, June 9, 2020:


Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, the Office of Native Affairs and Policy, and the Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force

Federal Communications Commission

Wed, 05/20/2020 - 19:00 to 20:30

This free webinar will be available on FCC Live and will focus on the issues related to the auction that affect state, local, Tribal, and territorial governments. The webinar also will provide an overview of the adopted policy framework for Auction 904, the draft procedures for applications and bidding in the auction, and tips for service providers that are interested in applying to participate in the auction.

Bread and Butter

The FCC's June 2020 meeting agenda includes the following:

Chairman Proposes Procedures for $16 Billion Phase I Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai shared draft procedures for the upcoming $16 billion Phase I Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction (Auction 904). With financial support from the auction, service providers will expand broadband service to millions of unserved homes and businesses in rural areas. At the FCC’s June 9 open meeting, the FCC will vote on finalizing these draft procedures. Auction 904 is the first phase of the FCC’s $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund initiative, which is modeled on the FCC’s successful Connect America Fund Phase II auction in 2018.

Are You Ready for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund?

Nothing in US history has exposed the rural digital divide as has the COVID-19 pandemic. Too many students in rural communities are being asked to participate in “distance learning” but are being left behind because their community’s infrastructure is insufficient. Adults, too, in rural communities are struggling with access to job listings and unemployment benefit applications as these services are frequently only available online.

House passes Democrats' $3 Trillion coronavirus 'HEROES' aid

The House on narrowly passed a $3 trillion coronavirus relief package crafted by Democrats. The bill passed by a vote of 208-199 and now heads to the Senate. One Republican backed the bill, while 14 Democrats voted against it. The House also passed a resolution to temporarily change House rules to allow for proxy voting and remote committee work during the pandemic, an unprecedented shift to how the chamber operates. It passed mostly along party lines.

Broadband HEROES

On May 12, House Democrats unveiled the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions (HEROES) Act. "We are presenting a plan to do what is necessary to address the corona crisis," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as she announced the legislation.