FCC hopes millions of homes could benefit from Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

WASHINGTON, D.C. (WLUC) - Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced initial estimates of how many homes and businesses in each state could benefit from Phase I of the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

In total, about 6 million rural homes and businesses could be eligible for bidding in an auction slated for later this year to receive funding for high-speed broadband.

This state-by-state list is for Phase I funding, which would target a total of $16 billion to census blocks with no broadband service at all meeting the Commission’s minimum speed standards.

The remainder of the funding would be disbursed during Phase II.

As recently announced, the FCC will vote January 30 on launching the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

“The digital divide affects many people in many rural communities. I’ve said that the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund would be our boldest step yet to bridge this divide, and today we get a glimpse of the broad impact this investment in rural America would have across the country,” said Chairman Pai. “Our staff’s initial estimate shows that in 25 states there would be more than 100,000 locations that would be eligible for Phase I of the Fund, and the benefits would be felt from the Pacific Coast to the Great Plains, and from Appalachia to the Gulf Coast. The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is critical to bridging the digital divide. I hope that my colleagues will join me in voting for it on January 30.”

The preliminary state-by-state list is below.*

State Bid-Eligible Locations
Alabama 211,000
Arizona 147,000
Arkansas 222,000
California 421,000
Colorado 99,000
Connecticut 4,000
Delaware 8,000
Florida 143,000
Georgia 197,000
Hawaii 17,000
Idaho 76,000
Illinois 246,000
Indiana 202,000
Iowa 68,000
Kansas 63,000
Kentucky 108,000
Louisiana 188,000
Maine 35,000
Maryland 49,000
Massachusetts 34,000
Michigan 286,000
Minnesota 134,000
Mississippi 231,000
Missouri 236,000
Montana 50,000
Nebraska 54,000
Nevada 34,000
New Hampshire 21,000
New Jersey 14,000
New Mexico 74,000
North Carolina 169,000
North Dakota 5,000
Ohio 215,000
Oklahoma 162,000
Oregon 91,000
Pennsylvania 197,000
Rhode Island 5,000
South Carolina 120,000
South Dakota 14,000
Tennessee 182,000
Texas 381,000
Utah 16,000
Vermont 26,000
Virginia 217,000
Wisconsin 271,000
Washington 115,000
West Virginia 130,000
Wyoming 21,000

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund would allocate $20.4 billion through a reverse-auction format to connect millions of rural homes and small businesses to high-speed broadband networks.

The Fund would target areas that lack access to 25/3 Mbps broadband services in two stages.

During Phase I, the FCC would target $16 billion to areas that are wholly unserved by such broadband (where there is no 25/3 Mbps service at all).

For Phase II, the FCC would use its new granular broadband mapping approach, called the Digital Opportunity Data Collection, to target unserved households in areas that are partially served by such broadband (areas where some households have access to 25/3 Mbps service but others do not). Phase II would also include areas that do not receive winning bids in Phase I.

*Commission staff’s initial estimate is that approximately six million model-determined locations would be eligible for bidding in Phase I of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. This figure is subject to change for a variety of reasons, including updated data regarding broadband deployment and construction as well as any modifications made to Chairman Pai’s draft rules. Locations in Alaska and New York are not eligible for RDOF because of previously established programs to fund rural broadband in these states.

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