FCC Authorizes New Wave Of Rural Broadband Funding


The FCC has authorized another wave of rural broadband funding. The commission will give providers $563 million to expand rural broadband in 24 states. Providers will receive funding as early as this month.

Service providers will have ten years to build out services that target rural subscribers. Providers were allocated funding through a reverse auction process where they offered up service at different speeds based on price. In the coming months, the FCC will be authorizing additional funding as it approves remaining applications of the winning bidders from the auction.

Service providers that won the auction are offering broadband access in tiers of 20mbps-100mbps.
Providers must build out to 40% of the assigned homes and businesses in the areas won in a state within three years. Buildout must increase by 20% in each subsequent year, until complete buildout is reached at the end of the sixth year.

In addition to the funding that is being made available through this auction, Chairman Pai has proposed that the FCC launch a new Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which would provide at least $20.4 billion over 10 years to expand broadband to additional rural areas. It is still unclear when or how this fund will be approved.

Alongside the rural broadband announcement, the FCC also said that it would be allocating $39.2 million separately, for the state of New York in partnership with the state’s New NY Broadband Program. The federal funding is being provided through the FCC’s Connect America Fund. As with the nationwide program, New York providers will be given funding to connect rural populations upstate and speeds ranging from 20mbps to 100mbps.

New NY Broadband is a $500 million grant program established by New York State in 2015. The program is designed to target unserved and underserved areas of the state over three phases of buildout. An “unserved” area is defined as an area where the fastest available advertised internet download speed offered by a wireline-based provider is less than 25 Mbps. An “underserved” area is defined as an area where broadband service is only available from a wireline-based provider at advertised internet download speeds between 25 Mbps and 99 Mbps.