The first portion of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund wrapped up last week and the FCC announced 180 winners on Monday. The allocation of $9.2 billion will be distributed over 10 years.
Charter Communications, listed as CCO Holdings, won the most locations, just over 1.05 million. Other big bidders include Windstream, which was awarded $522.9 million for 192,567 locations in 18 states; Frontier, which won $370.9 million for 127,188 locations in eight states and CenturyLink, which won $262.3 million for 77,257 locations in 20 states, according to the Commission.
A range of providers competed in the Phase I auction, including cable operators, electric cooperatives, incumbent telephone companies, satellite companies, and fixed wireless providers. For example, the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium won $1.1 billion for 618,000 locations in 22 states.
The FCC said the way it structured the auction yielded “significant” savings. Competitive bidding among over 300 providers yielded an allocation of $9.2 billion in support out of the $16 billion set aside for Phase I of the auction. The $6.8 billion in potential Phase I support that was not allocated will be rolled over into the future Phase II auction increasing that budget to $11.2 billion targeting partially-served areas (and the few unserved areas that did not receive funding through Phase I).
Auction results show that bidders won funding to deploy high-speed broadband to over 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses, almost 99 percent of the locations available in the auction. Moreover, 99.7 percent of these locations will be receiving broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, with over 85 percent getting gigabit-speed broadband, according to the agency.
The auction used a multi-round, descending clock auction format. Bidders under that format indicate in each round whether they would commit to provide service to an area at a given performance tier and latency at the current round’s support amount. The auction was technologically neutral and open to new providers, and bidding procedures prioritized bids for higher speeds and lower latency.
Providers must meet periodic buildout requirements that will require them to reach all assigned locations by the end of the sixth year. They’re incentivized to build out to all locations as fast as possible.
More information on the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction is available here, including complete auction results and a map of winning bids.