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The Public Interest Benefits of Expanding Fiber Networks Through Universal Service

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In a report prepared for USTelecom, The Brattle Group explains how closing the rural-urban digital divide is a top priority for the Federal Communications Commission (Commission). The goal requires ensuring more rural homes receive high quality broadband – services that are dependent on fiber backhaul.

The Commission’s latest efforts to close the rural-urban digital divide include the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) which will subsidize rural broadband deployments through a reverse auction process. The bidding process is designed to balance the sometimes competing desires for high quality and low cost broadband by giving more weight to bids that provide higher quality broadband services. The policy preference built into the auction for fast speeds and lower latency recognizes that terrestrial networks – regardless of the last mile technology – will require fiber deployments deeper into the network, with the concomitant spillover benefits additional fiber backbones will bring.

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