Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai presented rules to launch the new $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
The rules, which will be voted on by the Commission at its Open Meeting on January 30, would establish a two-phased process to provide funding for the deployment of high-speed broadband in rural areas. The Fund would target areas that lack access to 25/3 Mbps broadband services.
“While we’ve made substantial progress in expanding broadband deployment over the last three years, the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund would be the biggest step the FCC has taken to date to close the digital divide,” Ajit Pai said.
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 FCC would target $16 billion to areas that are unserved by 25/3 Mbps broadband for Phase I. 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 in Phase II.
FCC said 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.