The FCC released the final list of census blocks eligible for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase 1 auction, which will award up to $16 billion to cover some of the costs of deploying broadband to areas that have no availability of broadband at speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps. The RDOF auction eligible areas list arrives just under three weeks before the auction is scheduled to begin.
This is the third eligible areas list that the FCC has issued. A preliminary list came out in March that was based on information reported by service providers indicating where they offered broadband and voice services as of June 2019. A revised list came out in June after a challenge process.
The challenge process primarily sought input on areas initially considered unserved but where a challenger said it now offers voice and 25/3 Mbps service to at least one location. There was limited opportunity to add areas to the eligible list – only in cases where a rate of return carrier indicated it did not plan to deploy 25/3 Mbps service.
The RDOF auction primarily targets areas where the incumbent local carrier is one of the nation’s larger publicly held price cap carriers. Phase 2 of the auction will include census blocks that are only partially served with 25/3 Mbps broadband and voice services.
In the June RDOF eligible areas list, the FCC eliminated most of the areas that were challenged. Only a few additional eliminations were made between the June list and this one. Approximately 5.3 million locations were eligible as of the June list and the new list also shows approximately 5.3 million eligible locations.
As the FCC explains in a public notice, the only changes made since June involved:
- Removing areas challenged by Savage Communications that were not eliminated in June because they were delivered in printed form to the FCC during a period when the headquarters was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and could not be inputted into the system in time for the June revision.
- Restoring two census blocks in Rhode Island that Cox Communications originally challenged but subsequently chose not to challenge.
- Removing some California census blocks challenged by DigitalPath that were overlooked when areas challenged by DigitalPath were removed for the June list.
- Removing census blocks that are within the local service territory of rate of return carriers Range Telephone Cooperative in Wyoming and Dubois Telephone Exchange in Montana.
A complete list of census blocks included on the final list of RDOF eligible areas can be found at this link, along with a map of those census blocks.
A summary of eligible areas by state can be found in this press release.