See also Update at the end of the post with information about Lumen
The FCC just announced late this morning that it is ready to authorize another $313 million in RDOF funding. As we got set to send out today’s newsletter, the list of “ready to authorize” companies had not yet been released, but we will do an update whenever the list becomes available.
Considering that the total amount is $313 million, it is unlikely that the list includes the largest winners that are still waiting to hear on their long-form applications – or if it includes any of them, it would only be for a portion of the bidder’s winning bids, as all companies in the top six had winning bids exceeding $313 million.
Of the top six winning bidders, those that have either been fully authorized (except for some states or some defaulted bids) or have been put on a “ready to authorize” list — Charter, Frontier, the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium and Windstream – plan to deploy fiber broadband.
Two of the three that are still waiting to hear on their bids plan to use alternative technologies – SpaceX, which plans to use low earth orbit satellites, and Nextlink, which plans to use gigabit fixed wireless as well as fiber broadband. The third is LTD Broadband, which plans to deploy fiber but whose winning bids have been challenged by other companies that have expressed concerns about the company’s ability to meet its deployment commitments.
The bids that the FCC is ready to authorize will fund broadband deployments in 19 states to bring service to over 130,000 locations where high-speed broadband is not available today.
A company is put on a “ready to authorize” list when the FCC has reviewed and approved its long-form application. The company then has about two weeks to provide a letter of credit and bankruptcy opinion letter before it can be put on a fully authorized list and funding can be released.
To date, the FCC has authorized many small providers that had relatively small winning bids. But of the top 10 winning bidders, whose combined wins represent about 75% of the total $9.2 billion tentatively awarded, only those planning to deploy fiber broadband have been deemed “ready to authorize” or fully authorized. This includes Frontier, as well as the three entities mentioned above.
It’s worth noting that at least two of the top 10 winning bidders that are waiting to hear from the FCC have said they expect to be authorized. This includes Resound Networks, which plans to use gigabit fixed wireless and fiber broadband, and LTD Broadband.
When the FCC releases the list described in today’s press release, it should be available at this link.
UPDATE later on March 25- Lumen (formerly CenturyLink) represents the majority of the winning bids on the list released today. The listings include winning bids for the company in over a dozen states, which is a portion of the approximately 20 states for which the company had winning bids. It’s important to note, though, that we noted six states on the list that Lumen plans to sell to Apollo Funds and eight that Lumen plans to retain.
Lumen/CenturyLink was the tenth largest winning bidder and the only traditional telecom provider in the top 10 that had not yet appeared on a “ready to authorize” list. Wins were made under a wide range of monikers, including CenturyLink, CenturyTel, Qwest and Embarq.
The other companies on today’s list were small providers, including rural telecom providers and rural electric companies.