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

Sustaining Universal Service Programs

The Congressional directive in the Telecommunications Act of 1996 is for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to ensure that there be specific, predictable, and sufficient Federal and State mechanisms to preserve and advance universal service. The dilemma is that the source of Universal Service Fund (USF) programs is end user (i.e. retail) revenues from international and interstate wireline and mobile services, as well as revenue from providers of interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

A random sample of the Digital Divide

A tour of the remaining United States Digital Divide from a home in Quincy (CA) to an unserved farm in Newton (NC) to a home in Troy (AL).  These locations (and more) are from a random sample of BEAD-eligible unserved and underserved locations that are not part of the Federal Communications Commission's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) or Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM) programs. 

How far could the money go? Update with new Enhanced ACAM numbers

We could theoretically reach 94% of the Unserved and Underserved locations nationally. We only miss 750,000 locations. The biggest misses by percentage are Iowa (61% of Unserved and Underserved), Idaho (66%), Illinois, Kansas, and California (all 71%), Minnesota (76%), and Colorado and Nebraska (about 80%). I find it helpful to think about this as a simple math problem: how far the money might go can be estimated by multiplying the number of locations that need service times the average cost to serve them. There are 11.9 million Unserved and Underserved locations nationally.

Preserving and Advancing Universal Service

As what we can do with the internet has expanded, so too has the way we connect, and how we use it—at home and on the go. In the United States today, it has become the norm for a majority of households to have two types of subscriptions to the internet—mobile data for their phone and fixed (and for the most part) wireline service for their residence. Over 75 percent of households whose annual incomes exceed $50,000 have cellular data and wireline broadband subscriptions. For households below that level, 44.7 percent have both types of subscription plans.

Comments on the Current and Future State of the Universal Service Fund

Municipal leaders are on the front lines of the digital divide, responding to the needs and concerns of the communities they serve.

Free Press Calls on Congress and the FCC to 'Reimagine and Reinvent' Efforts to Bridge the Digital Divide

The US telecommunications market has significantly evolved since Congress last overhauled the Communications Act more than a quarter century ago. But the Federal Communication Commission’s universal service distribution policies – though periodically tweaked – are still rooted in a framework designed to support incumbent telephone companies. However, the Congress and the FCC now have before them an opportunity to reimagine and reinvent universal service policy for the future.

The Importance of the Universal Service Fund

On July 27, 2023, the U.S. Senate's Universal Service Fund (USF) Working Group invited public comment on the future of the USF with the stated goal of creating a bipartisan forum to guide education, awareness, and policymaking on the USF. The opportunity to weigh in with the senators has had me thinking about the importance of the USF for bringing affordable broadband infrastructure and services to millions of people around the country. So I'm taking this opportunity to share my thoughts on one of the most important tools in our national effort to reach truly universal broadband.

FCC Seeks Nominations for Six Board Member Positions on the Universal Service Administrative Company Board of Directors

The Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) seeks nominations for the following Board member positions on the Board of Directors of the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) listed below for a three-year term:

Cuba City and Cal-Ore Default Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Awards

Cuba City Telephone Exchange Co. and Cal-Ore Communications notified the Federal Communications Commission of their decisions to withdraw from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) support program. Cuba City and Cal-Ore’s letters constitute notification to the FCC that these carriers are defaulting on their obligations to meet their service milestones.

RDOF Winner Coalition Requests Emergency Relief, Citing COVID-Driven Cost Increases

The Coalition of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Winners has filed an emergency petition with the Federal Communications Commission regarding its request for extra funding or other relief measures. The group argues that the COVID pandemic has raised deployment costs dramatically and that the funding the companies won is now insufficient.