FCC Is $3 Billion Short on Rip-and-Replace Funds

A stack of money
(Image credit: ATU Images/Getty Images)

The Federal Communications Commission said it is $3.08 billion short on the funds it needs to reimburse all parties eligible to receive money to rip and replace suspect network technology, as the agency and Congress have mandated.

That came to light in a letter to legislators on Friday (July 15), the deadline FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel had set for coming up with a figure for how much of the $5.6 billion sought by network operators qualified for reimbursement.

That figure was $4.98 billion versus the $1.9 billion Congress appropriated for reimbursement.

The FCC had already signaled there would be a shortfall, and this week the House Energy & Commerce Committee favorably reported legislation that would include using the agency’s midband 5G wireless spectrum auction proceeds, wich often run into the tens of billions of dollars, to increase the reimbursement fund.

The rip-and-replace money is going to four categories of recipients, prioritized as follows: 

  • 1.) Applicants with fewer than 2 million customers;
  • 2.) “Accredited public or private non-commercial educational institutions providing their own facilities-based educational broadband services;”
  • 3.) “Health care providers and libraries;” and
  • 4.) Everyone else.

The FCC said that all the money it currently has will not even cover the eligible applicants in group one, which will only get 39.5 cents on the dollar.

It will take more money from Congress to cover the other 60.5 cents on the dollar and the health care providers and libraries. ▪️

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.