Rural Texans to benefit from $20.4B in federal subsidies for broadband
Texas is in line to benefit from its lack of broadband services in rural areas after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved the first phase of the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund on January 30.
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will subsidize the construction of high-speed broadband in 48 states through a reverse-auction format over 10 years.
The FCC’s goal is to connect the nation’s estimated 6 million rural residence and small businesses to high-speed broadband networks.
Texas has 381,000 bid-eligible sites, which is second only to California’s 421,000 sites. Michigan had 286,000 bid-eligible sites, and Wisconsin had 271,000. Locations in Alaska and New York are not eligible because they have established programs to fund rural broadband.
During the first phase, the FCC would target $16 billion to areas that are wholly unserved by such broadband where download service of at least 25 megabits per second (Mbps) and upload speeds of at least 3 Mbps is not available.
For the second phase, the FCC would use its new granular broadband mapping approach, called the Digital Opportunity Data Collection, to target unserved households in areas that are partially served by such broadband areas where some households have access to 25/3 Mbps service but others do not. The second phase also would include areas that do not receive winning bids in the initial phase.
The FCC will require winning bidders in the first phase to offer the supported broadband and voice service to all eligible homes and small businesses within the awarded areas, as determined by the Wireline Competition Bureau.