The FCC remains vigilant on its promise to complete the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction by the end of the year. This once-in-a-generation fund provides $16 billion over ten years to finance up to gigabit speed broadband networks connecting nearly six million unserved rural homes and businesses.
The recently published RDOF Auction Rules are designed to meet today’s subscriber broadband needs. First, they incentivize bids with faster speeds (up to gigabit) and lower latency, awarding support to the bidder offering the best-performing network once the total price of all bids falls below the auction’s budget. Also, the rules adopt the smaller Census Block Group unit as the minimal geographic bidding area removing a huge barrier of entry for smaller regional and greenfield players.
In a surprise twist, the FCC will allow fixed wireless carriers to bid gigabit on a case by case basis. However, the FCC is doubtful that is going to happen. "We expect it will be...challenging for a fixed wireless provider to make a case that it can offer a mass-market service meeting the Gigabit performance tier," was stated in a recent FCC Public Notice. Carriers are required to prove how they can provide services in practical commercial circumstances or face possible penalties.
Finally, the FCC is staying on track as shown in the following schedule:
- Online auction application tutorial would be available by June 15
- Short-form application filing window is July 1 – July 15
- Auction bidding tutorial would be available online by October 14
- Mock auction would begin October 26
- Auction would begin October 29
Now is the time to sharpen your pencil. CEOs, GMs, and CFOs must determine whether participating in the RDOF aligns with their long-term infrastructure buildout plans. The best place to start is to review the financial information found in the FCC RDOF map.
To stay up to date on the details of the RDOF, please visit Calix RDOF Funding. We offer regular office hour sessions when you and your peers can raise questions on funding, bidding processes, and best practices with regulatory experts. Register here for our next session.
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