Broadband Construction

Not long after the FCC announced that LTD Broadband was the largest winning bidder in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction, critics began questioning the company’s ability to meet rural broadband deployment commitments at the level of funding tentatively won. LTD Broadband CEO Corey Hauer had the opportunity to respond to those critics today on a webinar hosted by media outlet Broadband Money.

“We’re building fiber networks today and we know experientially what it costs us,” said Hauer.

Broadband construction costs, deployment times and competition are different in rural areas than in metro areas, Hauer noted. Construction teams generally don’t have to worry about things like gas lines, water lines or buried electric lines.

“The lower cost structure sort of makes up for the lack of density,” he said.

At stake is $1.3 billion in funding that LTD Broadband was tentatively awarded to bring fiber broadband, primarily at gigabit speeds, to parts of 15 states. The FCC has not yet approved LTD Broadband’s long-form RDOF application, a requirement before funding can be released to the company, but that’s not unusual in the case of the largest winners.

The 10 largest winners in the auction account for three quarters of the $9.2 billion tentatively awarded and most of those winners also have not yet had their long-form applications approved.

The RDOF auction tentatively awarded funding to bring broadband to unserved rural areas, with funding for an area 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.

LTD Broadband’s win calls for low-latency service at speeds of 1 Gbps downstream and 500 Mbps upstream throughout a large part of the areas won.

As Hauer explained, LTD Broadband has been deploying service in rural areas for 11 years and has been expanding rapidly.

RDOF plans call for the company to “keep growing at a massive rate” and to create regional hubs for handling construction, including one in Colorado, one in Texas and one in Illinois.

Asked whether LTD Broadband has a contingency plan in case its RDOF long-form application is not approved, Hauer said that’s not on the radar.

“The FCC has been very collaborative with us and other awardees,” he said. “They want RDOF to be successful. They want the companies participating in it to succeed and complete the obligation.”

A replay of the webinar is available here.

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