On June 9, the FCC approved final procedures for the upcoming Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF) reverse auction, setting a deadline of July 15 for participants to file short-form applications with bidding to commence on October 29. Winning broadband providers will receive subsidies over a ten-year period to build out broadband networks for communities that are still on the wrong side of the “digital divide.”
The auction mechanism is designed to select bids of providers that commit to deploy fixed high-speed broadband and voice services in unserved communities. Further, the FCC will provide a weighting of bids that favors bidders committing to higher broadband speeds and lower latency. The service areas for bidding in the auction will be census block groups.
Subsidy recipients must also meet certain build-out milestones and caps on retail prices for broadband and voice services. While the FCC eligibility requirements are platform agnostic, it is expected that winning bidders may use a variety of broadband infrastructures – including fixed wireless, fiber, and satellite technologies – to meet their performance requirements.
The FCC's RDOF Auction Procedures Public Notice can be found at: https://www.fcc.gov/edocs/search-results?t=quick&releasedDate=20200611.