FCC awards $362M for rural expansion of broadband connections in Texas
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) authorized $362 million in federal funding for rural broadband connections to nearly 311,000 unserved homes and businesses in Texas through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction.
On December 7, the FCC announced 22 bidders for Texas and a total of 180 bidders nationwide to deploy high-speed broadband to more than 5.2 million unserved homes and businesses over the next 10 years. Of these locations, 99.7 percent will be receiving broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, with 85 percent getting gigabit-speed broadband.
The auction is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America and focus limited universal service funds on unserved areas that most need support.
In October 2020, the Commission adopted rules creating the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion over the next decade to bring 5G wireless broadband connectivity to unserved areas in rural America.
The FCC’s structuring of the reverse auction yielded significant savings, as competitive bidding among over 300 providers yielded an allocation of $9.2 billion in support out of the $16 billion set aside for Phase I of the auction. The $6.8 billion in potential Phase I support that was not allocated will be rolled over into the future Phase II auction, which now can draw upon a budget of up to $11.2 billion in targeting partially-served areas and the few unserved areas that did not receive funding in the initial phase.