Action Center: Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced the creation of the Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF) to promote rural broadband deployment in April 2019. The first phase of the RDOF — a nationwide reverse auction administered by the FCC — is anticipated to conclude in late 2020.

In October 2020, the FCC released a Public Notice announcing eligible bidders for the RDOF auction. The Public Notice includes a list of all qualified bidders for at least one of the states for which they applied, and a list of all ineligible applicants. The notice also reminds applicants and bidders of the prohibition against discussing bids and bidding strategies with other applicants and participants in the auction.

Beginning in 2021, the program will ultimately distribute up to $20.4 billion (over 10 years) to connect millions of unserved rural locations to broadband. USTelecom members are uniquely positioned to compete for these essential (but finite) government funds to continue connecting rural America to the power and promise of broadband.

USTelecom RDOF Principles

  1. Future proof today for 5G and next generation technology tomorrow
    In addition to connecting homes and businesses to broadband, there are massive external benefits from the deployment of additional fiber deeper into rural America, opportunities that will be lost if funding is awarded for satellite service that has already been deployed.
  2. Experience matters
    Providers eligible for RDOF support should have a strong and proven track record of scalable deployment through major network infrastructure investments.
  3. Ensure a smooth transition for consumers and providers
    The RDOF transition must be orderly and not leave rural consumers and the companies that serve them in the lurch.
  4. Use the best available data
    If the RDOF moves forward with existing FCC broadband availability data, RDOF participants should not be penalized after the fact when the number of locations they have committed to serve in an area does not actually match the reality on the ground.

Download the USTelecom RDOF Principles