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FCC awards over $9 billion to boost rural broadband access

December 10, 2020
By: Connor LaVelle

Over 5.2 million homes and businesses are now planned to receive broadband internet access through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The FCC announced on Monday that 180 service providers, ranging from satellite companies, cable operators, fixed wireless providers, electric cooperatives, and telephone companies, have been awarded funding to begin expanding broadband internet access to rural areas throughout 49 U.S. states and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. The FCC’s news release explains that these providers “must meet periodic buildout requirements that will require them to reach all assigned locations by the end of the sixth year,” while also noting that “they are incentivized to build out to all locations as fast as possible.”

This round of funding, $9.2 billion in total, represents Phase I of the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Phase II will aim to provide broadband access to areas that are currently partially-served by internet providers and will provide up to $11.2 billion in awards (including $6.2 billion of unused Phase I funds). The FCC’s news release and list of awarded service providers can be found here.

broadband, fcc