This October, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction will award funding to cover costs for bringing broadband to census blocks that lack availability, reported Telecompetitor. In March, the FCC released a preliminary list of census blocks and subsequently received 180 challenges, including one from Frontier Communications. (Note: Frontier recently filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in April, Inside Towers reported.)
According to Telecompetitor, Frontier claims it already deployed broadband service to some eligible locations on the list. However, several associations representing broadband service providers questioned how Frontier could have brought service to so many census blocks, considering it could not meet the deployment objectives under the Connect America Fund program, which awarded $283 million to the company in 2015.
In response to the queries regarding deployment, Frontier argued in a letter to the FCC that, “ultimately, these are complaints about the Commission’s decision to divide the RDOF into two phases and to include partially served census blocks in Phase II. In effect, these letters represent untimely petitions for reconsideration of the commission’s determination that only census blocks that are wholly unserved . . . are eligible for Phase 1 of RDOF.”
In a second letter, Frontier added the company “would welcome the inclusion into the RDOF auction of the challenged census blocks where Frontier provides service at speeds of 25/3 Mbps and greater.” The company also noted it wishes to “…have an opportunity to obtain continued support to provide service to these high-cost areas.”
Since Frontier is regulated under the price cap system, it might be more difficult to obtain funding in the upcoming auction, reported Telecompetitor. The FCC plans to release a final list of census blocks eligible for the RDOF auction at least 14 days prior to the start date.