The FCC has authorized Connect America Fund, or CAF II, rural broadband funding for ViaSat and four other companies that won funding through the CAF II auction. Funding authorized totaled $89.2 million.
ViaSat represented the majority of the funding in this authorization round, the eighth the FCC has made since winners were announced last year. The funding authorized will enable the satellite broadband provider to bring service at speeds of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream to parts of 17 states.
Other companies whose funding was authorized in the eighth round include LTD Broadband, which won funding for parts of Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota; Horry Telephone Cooperative, which won funding for South Carolina; Bruce Telephone Company, which won funding for parts of Wisconsin and JCWIFI.com, which also won funding for Wisconsin.
All deployments in today’s announcement are for 25/3 Mbps service except Bruce Telephone, which will deploy 1 Gbps/ 500 Mbps service.
CAF II Funding
The Connect America Fund awarded funding for certain parts of the country where the incumbent local carrier is one of the nation’s larger price cap carriers. Funding was awarded through a reverse auction, with funding going to the entity that committed to deploying service at the lowest level of support. A weighting system favored bids for service at higher speeds or with lower latency.
A wide range of entities won funding to deliver service at a wide range of speeds and latencies using a range of technologies, including fixed wireless, fiber-to-the-home, fiber-to-the-node and other options. Winners included rural telcos, rural electric cooperatives, competitive providers and others. ViaSat was one of the largest winners.
Prior to authorizing funding to a CAF II winner, the FCC announces that the winner is “ready to authorize,” which means that the commission has reviewed and approved the winner’s long-form application. Final authorization is given after the company obtains an appropriate letter of credit and a bankruptcy code opinion letter. Companies on today’s authorized list were on previous “ready to authorize” lists.
The vast majority of CAF II funding has now been authorized. The FCC expects to use a reverse auction process similar to what was used for CAF II as plans are made for a proposed Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The RDOF would be a replacement for the CAF program and would target broader areas of price cap carrier territories.