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FCC Approves $7.4 Million More in Rural Broadband Subsidies

The FCC has authorized $7.4 million in funding over 10 years for rural broadband buildouts in Oklahoma and Oregon. 

Viasat will get $2,708,529.40 to serve 3,811 rural locations in Oregon and tribal provider Redwire will get $4,766,845.60 for fixed broadband "of at least 25/3 Mbps" for 8,041 rural homes and businesses in Oklahoma, including tribal areas. 

The providers must build out to 40% of those homes and businesses within three years and add another 20% yearly until all are served by year six. 

The funding is the 13th tranche of subsidies under the FCC's 2018 Connect America Fund Phase II auction, which is being replaced by the Rural Development Opportunities Fund auction that launches this fall.

The 2018 Phase II auction allocated $1.488 billion in subsidies in an effort to get broadband to 700,000 more rural residents within 10 years, with over half of them getting at least 100 Mbps speeds. The FCC has now authorized over $1.4 billion in 13 tranches.   

The largest incumbent price cap carriers—AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink—declined about $2 billion in Connect America Fund phase II (CAF II) support for building out broadband to high-cost, generally rural, areas, so the FCC opened that pot of money up to competitors, like cable broadband providers, via auction.  

“Access to the internet is more important than ever as our nation responds to the coronavirus pandemic,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee. “Far too many Oregonians still lack access to reliable broadband internet service and thus access to things like telemedicine, remote learning, next generation emergency services, and video streaming because of insufficient Internet service. Expanding access to rural broadband in Oregon brings us closer to narrowing the urban/rural digital divide and ushers rural Oregonians into the 21st Century. This money is welcome news for the over 2,000 individuals and small businesses in the second district that will be impacted. I am grateful to Chairman AjitPai, who saw firsthand the need for expanding rural broadband in eastern Oregon when he visited in 2018, for his efforts to strengthen connectivity in Oregon and I look forward to continuing to work with him on expanding rural broadband across our great state and nation.”