Pai Nixes Extensions of RDOF Auctions and Tribal Priority Application Window

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In letters to the Co-Chairs of the Congressional Native American Council, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai denied their requests for an extension of both the tribal priority filing window timeline originally set to close on August 3, 2020, and the upcoming RDOF auction scheduled to begin October 22, 2020. Representatives Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) and Tom Cole (R-OK) were the recipients of the bad news.
Chairman Pai’s response reminded the Congressional leaders that the FCC had already extended the application deadline for the 2.5G Rural Tribal Priority Window by 30 days, to September 2, 2020. “This 30-day extension strikes an appropriate balance between providing more time for additional Tribal entities to apply and unduly delaying the grant of licenses to those that have already applied.” he said. Over 333 applications have now been received from various Tribal entities.
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, according to Pai, “represents the Commission’s boldest step yet in bridging the digital divide” and, “the $20.4 billion…Fund will… allocate support for up to gigabit services to millions of unserved Americans who currently lack access to fixed 25/3 Mbps broadband.” He said that any postponement in the RDOF auction, “would delay the deployment of high-speed broadband to unserved areas and keep more Americans on the wrong side of the digital divide…”
We believe the Commission has done a good job of juggling these well-intentioned delay requests with the need to bring broadband to rural and tribal America in a more timely and efficient manner.