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FCC Schedules Rural Broadband Bucks Webinar

The FCC's Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force has scheduled a May 5 webinar on the big bucks the FCC plans to provide for closing the rural digital divide. 

That effort has taken on new urgency in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic-driven shelter-in-place populace and the Trump Administration plan to try and make sure all kids K-12 have access to broadband for remote learning. 

Currently millions of homes--there is some disagreement over just how many--lack access to high-speed broadband, most in rural areas. 

The FCC is giving out up to $16 billion in the first phase of its Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.  

Related: FCC Sets Rural Broadband Fund Auction Date 

The May 5 webinar is free and will give an overview of how the auction of that $16 billion in subsidies (Auction 904) will be set up. 

The FCC said that almost 6 million homes and businesses will be eligible for service in the auction.  

The FCC in January approved a $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to support broadband deployment in rural areas, with $16 billion handed out in phase one via a reverse auction. 

Related: All the Latest News on COVID-19 and Its Impact on Industry

The Report and Order adopted the two-phase reverse auction framework for providing high-cost universal service support to bring fixed high-speed broadband service to millions of unserved Americans in high-cost areas.  

The fund will go toward deploying high-speed broadband over 10 years to areas currently lacking fixed broadband service of at least 25 Mbps download speeds and 3 Mbps upload.  

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.