The FCC released what the agency says is the final list of eligible areas to be eligible for bidding in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction. The auction is set to begin on October 29.
The auction will target up to $16 billion to census blocks with no fixed broadband service meeting the Commission’s minimum standards. About 5.3 million unserved homes and businesses are located in areas eligible for bidding in the auction.
The list of eligible areas excludes areas that were awarded ReConnect Round 2 grants and grant/loan combinations as identified by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service and removes certain rate-of-return census blocks based on two revised study area boundary filings. A challenge process following the release of the previous list in June primarily sought input on areas initially considered unserved but where a challenger said it now offers voice and 25/3 Mbps service to at least one location. There was limited opportunity to add areas to the eligible list – only in cases where a rate of return carrier indicated it did not plan to deploy 25/3 Mbps service.
The FCC said the only changes made since June were:
- Removing areas challenged by Savage Communications that were not eliminated in June because they were delivered in printed form to the FCC during a period when the headquarters was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and could not be inputted into the system in time for the June revision.
- Restoring two census blocks in Rhode Island that Cox Communications originally challenged but subsequently chose not to challenge.
- Removing some California census blocks challenged by DigitalPath that were overlooked when areas challenged by DigitalPath were removed for the June list.
- Removing census blocks that are within the local service territory of rate of return carriers Range Telephone Cooperative in Wyoming and Dubois Telephone Exchange in Montana.
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