rural setting

The FCC released another list of RDOF winning bidders who have been fully authorized to receive funding to cover some of the costs of deploying broadband to unserved rural areas. On the list are Charter bids in at least 22 states and Ziply bids in four states. In addition, at least a dozen smaller winning bidders also are on the list.

Charter’s approval is noteworthy because the company was the largest winning bidder in the auction, which tentatively awarded funding to companies that bid to deploy service for the lowest level of government support. Charter initially was slated to receive over $1.22 billion in the auction, but that number has been reduced somewhat, as the company opted not to pursue some of its winning bids.

The RDOF auction had about 200 winning bidders, many of which were small rural telcos, wireless internet service providers, cable companies and electric cooperatives. Many of these smaller companies also have been fully authorized to receive their funding.

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Although Ziply is a relatively large company, having acquired former Frontier operations in the Northwest, it was not one of the largest winning bidders. Its authorized winning bids in four states comprise about nine pages of the FCC’s 262-page authorized list released today. The vast majority of the list is comprised of Charter winning bids, which were made under several different monikers, including Charter Fiberlink, Bright House and Time Warner.

Charter RDOF Authorization

The FCC authorization process begins with a review of a company’s long-form application. When the FCC has reviewed and approved the application, the company is then deemed “ready to authorize,” at which point it has about two weeks to provide a bankruptcy opinion letter and a letter of credit before it can be fully authorized.

The top 10 winning bidders in the RDOF auction are slated to receive three quarters of the total $9.2 billion tentatively awarded in the auction and Charter is now one of a minority of winning bidders that have had their funding fully authorized.

Notably, the large winning bidders that have been deemed “ready to authorize” or fully authorized — including Windstream, Frontier, Charter and members of the Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium — plan to use fiber to provide service. Some of the large winning bidders plan to use less tested technology, including gigabit fixed wireless and low earth orbit satellite broadband, but have not yet appeared on a “ready to authorize” list.

The complete list of newly authorized RDOF winning bidders can be found at this link.

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