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

This 26-year-old federal fund evolved to fight the ‘digital divide.’ Now a court might throw it out.

Over the past 26 years, the Universal Service Fund — a federal subsidy pool collected monthly from American telephone customers — has spent close to $9 billion a year to give Americans better phone and internet connections, wiring rural communities in Arkansas, inner-city neighborhoods in Chicago, and public libraries and schools across the country. Now it faces the biggest crisis of its existence, and Congress appears paralyzed in the effort to fix it.

Who’s In Charge of Broadband?

On July 24, 2023, the Federal Communications Commission authorized a new subsidy program, Enhanced A-CAM (Alternate Connect America Cost Model). This program will extend subsidies to small, regulated telephone companies at a cost of about $1.27 billion per year for ten years.

FCC Seeks Comment on Extending Waiver of Letter of Credit Rules for Connect America Fund Phase II Auction

Recognizing the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on financial markets and on the ability of providers to successfully conduct their operations, the Federal Communications Commission's Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) waived the FCC’s letter of credit (LOC) rules for Connect America Fund Phase II auction (Auction 903) and Rural Broadband Experiments (RBE) support recipients in 2020 and 2021. Recipients of support from both programs were permitted to comply with the less extensive letter of credit rules established by the FCC for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).

Lessons Learned from RDOF: Some Advice for the States as They Embark on BEAD

Today, many months after passage of the landmark Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the states are finally on the cusp of implementing National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s $40+ billion Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program. Some states are confidently moving ahead quickly, while others are in the early days of developing concrete plans for how they will manage this historic federal investment.

RDOF Winner Coalition Still Hopes for Additional Funding Due to Increased Costs

A group known as the Coalition of Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Winners is still hoping that the Federal Communications Commission will release additional funding to the companies to help cover the large increases in deployment costs that the winners have experienced since the RDOF rural broadband funding auction was completed in 2020, just prior to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in the US. One of the companies seeking extra funding is Aristotle Broadband, which won $62 million in the auction for deployments primarily in Arkansas and Mississippi, including persistent poverty cou

Internet providers that won FCC grants try to escape broadband commitments

A group of Internet service providers that won government grants are asking the Federal Communication Commission for more money or an "amnesty window" in which they could give up grants without penalty. The ISPs were awarded grants to build broadband networks from the FCC's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), which selected funding recipients in December 2020.

WTA Expresses Opposition to Supplementing RDOF Support Amounts

WTA—Advocates for Rural Broadband filed a letter in opposition to a proposal by the Coalition of RDOF Winners which seeks substantial post-auction supplemental additions to the support amounts, as well as significant changes to the distribution schedules and other terms and conditions, for which the Coalition’s members made winning low bids and agreed to accept during the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) reverse auction.

CFO: Charter Has Won Over $700M in Broadband Funding Since RDOF

Charter has now won $700 million in broadband funding since its big win in the 2018 Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction, said Jessica Fischer, the company’s chief financial officer. The funding will go toward buildouts to 300,000 locations, Fischer said. The gross cost of the buildouts for which Charter has won funding will be $1.7 billion, which suggests that Charter will contribute matching funds of about $1 billion for the builds. The buildout cost per passing to Charter will be $3,200, Fischer said. The company completed 68,000 subsidized rural passings this quarter, she noted

Universal Service Fund Working Group Request for Comment

The Universal Service Fund Working Group seeks public comment on the future of the Universal Service Fund (USF). The goal of this working group is to create a bipartisan forum to guide education, awareness, and policy-making on the USF. The working group invited comments on ten questions related to money collected from telecommunications companies that is dedicated to fulfilling the goals of universal service.

Wavelength Defaults on Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Bids; LTD Broadband's Petition Dismissed by FCC

The Federal Communications Commission announced that Wavelength's Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) long-form application has defaulted. Wavelength’s defaulted bids are identified here.