FCC Hands Out More Rural Broadband Funding

The FCC says rural more rural broadband means better crop yields
(Image credit: Chris Light/Wikimedia Commons)

With most of the Biden administration‘s $65 billion in broadband subsidies yet to be handed out, the Federal Communications Commission continues to distribute hundreds of millions of dollars to help close the digital divide.

An additional $313 million to be distributed via the FCC’s through its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) was authorized Friday (March 25). Total authorized funding now comes to more than $5 billion, including more than $1 billion doled out in January.

The latest tranche of money will go for new deployments in 19 states.

Also: FCC Authorizes Over $1 Billion for Rural Broadband

“The funding announced today will help hundreds of thousands of Americans get access to high-speed, reliable broadband service,” FCC chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said. “We continue our expanded oversight of this program through the Rural Broadband Accountability Plan to make sure that applicants deliver services as promised to areas that truly need help.”

That plan is intended to prevent waste, fraud and abuse, and make sure the money is going where it is most needed.

In its RDOF auction, the FCC allocated $20 billion for: 1) rural broadband buildouts ($16 billion); and 2) unserved areas ($4 billion) over 10 years.

The Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications & Information Administration is overseeing the vast majority of the $65 billion in new broadband subsidies provided for in the Biden infrastructure package, but the FCC remains a big player through its longstanding Universal Service Fund money, which constitutes billions of dollars for advanced telecommunications in areas of the country that are difficult to monetize or reach.

“The Fiber Broadband Association commends the Federal Communications Commission for continuing to carefully scrutinize the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) long form applications and for approving fiber and well-designed broadband projects by authorizing an additional $313M in 19 states and 130,000 locations into the program," said Gary Bolton, president of the Fiber Broadband Association, "bringing us up to over $5 billion in RDOF funding to fiber and high performing deployments in 47 states and 2.8 million locations. We encourage the FCC continue to carefully scrutinize non-fiber projects, as this precious funding is desperately needed to connect communities with reliable and future-proof broadband service now and into the future.” ■

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.