FCC Targets $1.2B for Rural Broadband Deployments
February 2, 2022
The Federal Communications Commission is ready to authorize more than $1.2 billion through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to fund new broadband deployments in 32 states. In the largest funding round to date, 23 broadband providers will bring broadband service to over 1 million locations. The Commission also has created the Rural Broadband Accountability Plan, a new effort to monitor and ensure compliance for universal service high-cost programs including the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
“Today’s announcement means more connectivity is coming to
consumers, while we continue our commitment to make sure that
funding goes to areas that truly need it,” said Chairwoman
Rosenworcel. “The new Rural Broadband Accountability Plan will
speed up our audit and verification processes and for the first time
make public the results of verifications, audits, and speed and
latency testing. These new measures will help ensure that the
providers we fund in this program will do the job.”
·Increasing audits and verifications of large and higher-risk support recipients – The largest dollar recipients will be subject to an on-site audit in at least one state and higher-risk recipients will be subject to additional audits and verifications.
·Increasing program transparency – For the first time, results of
verifications, audits, and speed and latency performance testing
will be made public on USAC’s website.
Over the past year the Commission has taken a number of actions to strengthen its oversight of the program, including:
• Sending letters to 197 applicants concerning areas where there was evidence of existing service or questions of waste. Bidders have already chosen not to pursue support in approximately 5,000 census blocks in response to the Commission’s letters.
• Denying waivers for winning bidders that have not made appropriate efforts to secure state approvals or prosecute their applications. These bidders would have otherwise received approximately $350 million.
• Publishing a list of areas where providers had defaulted, thereby making those places available for other broadband funding opportunities.
• Conducting an exhaustive technical, financial, and legal review of all winning bidders.