Individual states are expected to receive anywhere between $1.12 and $202 per resident in broadband funding through the first round of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF), according to an analysis from SatelliteInternet.com.
Connecticut was at the low end of the scale, at just $1.12 per resident, while West Virginia, at $202 per resident, was at the top.
SatelliteInternet.com calls itself “a team of experts and connection advocates servicing rural America.”
The national average of funding per resident was $43.
The researchers also looked at funding per rural resident in each state, which ranged from $9 per rural resident in Rhode Island to $830 per rural resident in California.
RDOF funding doesn’t go directly to each state, but instead is awarded to service providers to cover some of the cost of deploying broadband to unserved rural areas. The FCC conducted a reverse auction to determine funding recipients, with funding for an area going to the provider that committed to deploying broadband for the lowest level of support. A weighting system favored bids to provide higher-speed, lower-latency service.
It’s worth noting that the final amount of funding per state could change if some of the winning bidders do not receive FCC approval on the long-form applications that they are required to file.
RDOF Funding by State
The SatelliteInternet.com researchers created a map showing how each state ranks in RDOF funding per resident.
The states with the most funding per resident, in descending order, were West Virginia, which will receive $202 per resident, Mississippi ($167), Arkansas ($141), Montana ($118), Wyoming ($99), New Mexico ($79), Louisiana ($74), Minnesota ($72), Alabama ($67), and Wisconsin ($64).
Considering that the RDOF program targets rural areas, perhaps researchers’ analysis of funding per rural resident is more relevant.
Half of the states that were in the top 10 measured by residents were also on the top 10 list measured by funding per rural resident. But the other five were different.
The states with the most funding per rural resident, in descending order, were California ($830), West Virginia ($530), Arkansas ($377), Minnesota ($328), Massachusetts ($327), Mississippi ($313), Pennsylvania ($254), Wisconsin ($248), Illinois ($205) and Michigan ($201).
There was similar overlap between the lowest 10 states, measured by funding per resident, and the lowest 10 states, measured by funding per rural resident. Six states appeared on both lists.
The states with the least funding per resident were largely in the less rural eastern U.S. Three states had funding per resident under $2, including Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey. The other seven states were Massachusetts ($5), New York ($5), Florida ($6), Maryland ($8), Utah ($10), Texas ($12) and Delaware ($14).
The states with the least funding per rural resident, in ascending order, were Rhode Island ($9), New Jersey ($13), Connecticut ($23), New Hampshire ($50), North Dakota ($53), Delaware ($73), Vermont ($80), Hawaii ($90), Utah ($93) and Texas ($117).
The researchers offered their take on some of the findings. They noted, for example, that several of the states with the most funding per resident were mountainous, which increases deployment costs.
They also questioned why California topped the list of funding per rural resident, considering that only 837,284 of its 39 million residents live in rural areas. And why North Dakota, whose rural population represents 39.4% of the state’s total population, received a small fraction of what California received per resident.
I can’t explain the California number, but a possible explanation of why North Dakota received a comparatively small amount of funding per rural resident is that the state already has a high percentage of residents who have fiber broadband available to them.