Today's Regulatory Mix: FCC Chairman Proposes Procedures for RDOF Auction, FCC Commissioner Carr Announces 5G Upgrade Order
FCC Chairman Proposes Procedures for RDOF Auction
The FCC announced that Chairman Ajit Pai shared with his colleagues draft procedures for the upcoming $16 billion Phase I Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction (Auction 904).
With financial support from the auction, service providers will expand broadband service to millions of unserved homes and businesses in rural areas. At the FCC’s June 9 open meeting, the FCC will vote on finalizing these draft procedures. Auction 904 is the first phase of the FCC’s $20.4 billion RDOF initiative, which is modeled on the FCC’s successful Connect America Fund Phase II auction in 2018. Bidding in Auction 904 is scheduled to begin on October 29, 2020.
“Closing the digital divide is my top priority as Chairman, and this auction is our boldest step yet to ensure that broadband is available to all Americans,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “We’ve designed this auction to ensure robust participation, with incentives for bidders to build high-performance networks so we get fast broadband to as many as six million American homes and business that aren’t currently connected. The COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for the Commission to continue its work to ensure that all Americans have access to highspeed broadband as soon as possible. That’s one reason why we’re moving full speed ahead with the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.”
The draft auction procedures strike a balance between building sustainable networks that will meet the needs of the future while maximizing the number of locations that receive service. The auction targets census blocks that current data show are wholly unserved. Funds will be allocated through a multi-round reverse auction format similar to that used in the Connect America Fund Phase II auction. The RDOF Phase I auction more than doubles the minimum speeds that providers must deliver to 25/3 Mbps. It also prioritizes bids offering to provide even faster speeds (up to a gigabit) and lower latency by giving those bids greater weight in the auction and awarding support to the bidder offering the best combination of speed and latency in each area once the aggregate price of all bids drops below the auction’s budget. These bidding procedures will enable providers to start planning for the start of the auction in October by determining the amount of support they will need to provide a specified level of service to a specified set of eligible areas.
FCC Commissioner Carr Announces 5G Upgrade Order
In an announcement, FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr announced that the FCC will vote on his 5G Upgrade Order, the latest of Carr’s initiatives to accelerate America’s wireless infrastructure builds.
“America’s tower crews and telecom techs are building the strongest 5G network in the world. Their efforts already are creating new jobs and opportunities in towns across the country. By streamlining tower upgrades, we will encourage even more investment in our communities and new service to connect families,” said Carr. “Rural America will benefit from new competition for their broadband dollars. First responders will benefit from dedicated networks and expanded capacity. And all Americans will benefit from world-leading wireless service as existing towers are upgraded to 5G."
The 5G Upgrade Order clarifies the FCC’s 2014 rules by:
- Explaining when the 60-day shot clock for local approval begins
- Specifying what new equipment qualifies for streamlined approval
- Clarifying how local governments’ concealment and aesthetic conditions of approval apply
- Asking for public comment on what activity related to a modification can occur outside of a wireless site
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.