The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that it is ready to authorize nearly $709,060,159 in its fourth round of funding for new broadband deployments through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
Combined with the first three funding wave announcements, the FCC has now committed $1.7 billion in funding for new broadband deployments. In this funding wave, 50 broadband providers will bring broadband service to over 400,000 locations in 26 states.
“This latest announcement highlights the agency’s commitment to supporting even more opportunities to connect hundreds of thousands of Americans to high-speed, reliable broadband service while doing our due diligence to ensure the applicants can deliver to these unserved communities as promised,” FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “This program can do great things to help expand broadband in our country.”
The 26 states slated for latest round of funding are Alabama, Arizona, California, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The FCC said that the bulk of latest round of funding will go to nonprofit rural electric cooperatives to deploy broadband throughout their service areas.
The FCC also noted that it has been working to clean up the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to “ensure that funds go where they are needed and that winning bidders can meet the program’s technical, financial, and legal requirements.” As part of that clean-up process, the FCC has taken a number of actions, including:
- Sending letters to 197 applicants concerning areas where there was evidence of existing service or questions of waste. Bidders have already chosen not to pursue support for almost 5,000 census blocks in response to the Commission’s letters.
- Denying waivers for winning bidders that have not made appropriate efforts to secure state approvals or prosecute their applications. These bidders would have otherwise received more than $344 million.
- Publishing a list of areas where providers have defaulted, thereby making those places available for other broadband funding opportunities.
- Conducting an exhaustive technical, financial, and legal review of all winning bidders.