Draft Order on Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Ready for Vote

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai recently announced that a draft order establishing broadband funding for the hardest-to-serve rural areas of our country would be voted on at the Commission’s January 30 open meeting.

The RDOF establishes a two-phased process to provide funding for deployment of high-speed broadband in areas of the U.S. where there is no fixed broadband service that meets the Commission’s minimum requirements. The fund will provide $20.4 Billion over the next decade to bridge the digital divide in rural America. Chairman Pai said that “we will use a multi-round, descending clock reverse auction…this same…approach (used) in 2018 for Phase II of our Connect America Fund.”

He explained that “Phase I of the RDOF would provide up to $16 Billion to fund deployment of high-speed broadband in census blocks where we know that there’s not ANY service available meeting the Commission’s baseline speed standards.” Phase II, he said, “will cover unserved households in census blocks where some households are served, as well as areas that don’t receive funding in Phase I.”

The RDOF, Pai concluded, “has the potential to transform the lives of millions of our fellow citizens in rural America and revitalize parts of our country that are currently being left out of our digital economy. That’s why I hope my colleagues will join me on January 30 in supporting this bold initiative.”

We will bring you more on this after that meeting.