The FCC has begun to release information about companies that submitted long-form applications in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction. The commission has not said that the applications were approved, only that it has received them.
The RDOF auction tentatively awarded $9.2 billion to cover some of the cost of deploying high-speed broadband to rural areas lacking the service.
Stakeholders are eagerly awaiting the results of the full long-form application review process, as some have questioned whether the technologies that some applicants expect to use will be capable of meeting the service parameters to which the applicants committed. Also in question is whether some applicants have the resources to complete the deployments to which they have committed, which in some cases outnumber the bidder’s existing deployments.
Concerns also have been expressed that some bidders won funding for fiber deployments that won’t be economically feasible at the level of funding provided.
RDOF Long-Form Applications
The list released today is only the start of the RDOF long-form review process.
The commission released a list of 417 companies that submitted long-form applications. Long-form applications were due January 29.
The RDOF long-form application list provides some additional information about the winning bidders. Notably, it separates out individual members that bid as part of a consortium and identifies companies that bid under unfamiliar names in the auction.
As a result, although there were 180 winning bids in the auction, the list of winning bidders has now more than doubled.
The RDOF long-form application list also includes the number of census blocks and locations, as well as support amounts, by state for each applicant.
One of the technologies that some winning bidders plan to use that others have questioned is gigabit fixed wireless, a technology whose economics have not been proven in rural settings. Also in question is low-earth orbit satellite technology, which one of the largest winning bidders — SpaceX — plans to use to deliver 100 Mbps service. SpaceX is still in the process of deploying its LEO satellite constellation and critics question whether it has the capacity to meet the company’s RDOF commitments.
A range of entities have asked the FCC to closely scrutinize long-form applications. And some have suggested that the commission change its review process to include a greater emphasis on an applicant’s technology and financial resources.
The RDOF long-form applications list can be found at this link.