Resound Networks has received final authorization from the FCC for winning bids in seven states in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program. The company was the winning bidder for over $300 million in funding to cover some of the costs of deploying broadband to unserved and underserved rural areas, making it one of the top 10 winning bidders in the program.
RDOF money was awarded using a reverse auction, with funding going to the company that committed to deploying service for the lowest level of support. A weighting system favored bids to provide higher-speed lower-latency service.
The top 10 bidders won about three quarters of the $9.2 billion tentatively awarded in the program.
The FCC said last month that it was ready to authorize the Resound bids. At that point, the company had about two weeks to submit a letter of credit and a bankruptcy opinion letter, which had to be approved by the FCC before final authorization was granted.
Resound was the last of the top 10 winning bidders to learn its fate in the auction, which concluded in late 2020. Charter, Windstream, Frontier, and three others have had all or most of their funding authorized.
The FCC declined to approve two other companies. One was LTD Broadband, a relatively small company that was the top winning bidder, raising concerns about whether the company could meet its deployment commitments. The other was SpaceX, which planned to use low-earth orbit satellites to deliver service.
Another top winning bidder – fixed wireless provider Starry – also was authorized to receive funding but subsequently defaulted on its winning bids, apparently due to an unsuccessful initial public offering.
Another provider receiving final RDOF authorization today was Hughes Network Systems, which was authorized to receive funding for two winning bids in Rhode Island. The satellite broadband provider won a relatively small amount of funding in the auction.
Resound’s authorized bids are for deployments in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.
Resound Final RDOF Authorization
Resound’s final RDOF authorization likely took so long because the company was one of several winning bidders that plans to use a combination of fixed wireless and fiber broadband to support gigabit speeds. Critics argued that gigabit fixed wireless was unproven in rural areas.
Resound and other big RDOF winners planning to deploy gigabit fixed wireless gathered data to support their claims through real-world trials and deployments and were ultimately authorized.