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Phase one of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) rural broadband auction has ended. According to the FCC, the results will be released in “the coming days.”

The RDOF Phase One auction was expected to award up to $16 billion in rural broadband funding, to be distributed over a period of 10 years, to cover some of the costs of deploying service to areas where it is not available today. Funding was to be awarded to the network operator that committed to bringing service to an area for the lowest level of support.

Nearly 400 entities (386) qualified to bid in the auction, which started October 29. The total number of companies involved was higher because in some cases, a group of companies bid as a single consortium. (story continues below)

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Among those that qualified to bid were large and small telecom service providers, wireless internet service providers (WISPs), rural electric companies, cable companies, satellite providers and others. Some of the big names that qualified to bid were Verizon, CenturyLink, Cox Communications, Hughes Network Systems, Viasat, Cincinnati Bell, Frontier, Windstream, Altice USA, Midcontinent Communications (Midco) and Space Explorations Technologies (Space X).

RDOF Auction Ends

Winners must commit to deploying service at speeds of at least 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream. A weighting system was designed to favor bids to provide lower-latency and/or higher-speed service (up to 1 Gbps downstream or higher).

The RDOF auction was modeled, in large part, on the 2018 Connect America Fund auction, which also used a weighting system. A substantial percentage of winners in that auction won funding to deploy gigabit service.

Some winners in that auction are deploying fiber broadband, while others are deploying fixed wireless. Satellite provider ViaSat also was a big winner in that auction.

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