FCC awards $800 million in grants for rural broadband development • The Register

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) says it is willing to spend nearly $800 million to fund rural broadband deployments in 19 states, with Illinois, Arizona and Iowa getting just over half the total pot.

The FCC said it has already allocated more than $6 billion for rural broadband connections in 47 states through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). This round of funding [PDF]valued at $792 million, will focus on using technologies that “provide end-user sites with either fiber or fixed wireless network services using licensed spectrum,” the commission said.

“We are confident that these projects can bring quality service to currently underserved areas,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel.

The huge investment will hopefully bring broadband service to over 350,000 locations, the FCC said, and includes 2,072 approved offers that have been under review since 2020. Recipients have until September 15 to submit stand-by letters of credit and bankruptcy law opinions to complete disbursements.

This particular RDOF cohort is finance the twelfth from a pool of participants that once included Elon Musk’s satellite internet company Starlink, which has marketed itself as an option for people in rural areas.

Starlink asked for $1 billion in RDOF grants. which the FCC denied because it said Starlink had not demonstrated its ability to deliver on service promises. Starlink funding “would not be the best use of limited Universal Service Fund dollars to bring broadband to unserved areas of the United States,” the FCC said.

Much of the money allocated to the RDOF comes from President Biden Invoice infrastructure that was passed last November. The telecoms industry has been allocated $65 billion of the $1.2 trillion total in the bill, which the White House said would enable historic investments in broadband infrastructure.

Earlier this summer, FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel said existing broadband baseline speed requirements of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mpb up were insufficient to meet the demands of the modern internet, proposing one instead 100 Mbit down, 20 Mbit up national standard of service. The US currently ranks 14th in the global broadband speed ranking eedtest.netand 28th place in terms of cost.

The FCC hasn’t shared details on how it intends to achieve such a speed increase, but future subsidies for ISPs may depend on their ability to comply if and when such a standard is enacted. ®

https://www.theregister.com/2022/09/01/fcc_funding_broadband/ FCC awards $800 million in grants for rural broadband development • The Register

Laura Coffey

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