Wednesday, August 29, 2018

700,000 rural homes to get broadband after FCC auction; 33 rural electric co-ops, now eligible, get part of the package

"More than 700,000 U.S. homes and small businesses in unserved rural America will get broadband internet connectivity as part of a just-completed auction overseen by the Federal Communications Commission. Broadband service to these currently unserved areas in 45 states – the equivalent of as many 1.7 million Americans – will be subsidized in part by about $1.5 billion in federal funds over the next 10 years," Mike Snider reports for USA Today.

The FCC created the reverse auction to encourage providers to build out broadband to underserved areas. In such an auction, bidders that promise to deliver the best service with the least amount of FCC subsidies win the right to build out that region. More than 220 companies put in bids, but since those bids totaled $1.488 billion, far less than the $2 billion the FCC allocated for the program, the remaining $500 million will go to future efforts for rural connectivity, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said.

The FCC reports that more than half of the locations to be served by auction winners will get download speeds of at least 100 megabits per second, about 20 percent will get 1-gigabit service, and almost all the rest will get at least 25 Mbps, John Eggerton reports for Multichannel News.

The FCC allowed rural electric cooperatives to bid for funding as broadband service providers for the first time, and 33 co-ops took partnered to win a $220 million bid for the right to bring broadband to rural areas in their states, Daniel Enoch reports for Agri-Pulse. The co-ops are in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Here's a list, from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association.

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