The FCC plans to take the next step in establishing the Rural Digital Opportunities Fund (RDOF) by scheduling a vote on draft rules at its next monthly meeting scheduled for January 30. As we explained in our August 1, 2019, e-Lert, the FCC started the process of establishing a new Connect America Fund (CAF), known as RDOF, in areas served by price cap carriers. The RDOF will distribute $20.4 billion for 10 years of support in two phases with the first phase being held in 2020. Under both phases, funds will be distributed using a reverse auction process, similar to the CAF Phase II auction conducted in 2018.

In most respects, the draft rules are consistent with those proposed in the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM). One notable exception, however, is a change in how the auction will be conducted, which recognizes the overwhelming benefits of fiber over fixed wireless when it comes to spending limited Universal Service funds. This change was due in large part to the diligent efforts of our clients in North Dakota and other rural telecom industry advocates.

JSI will provide additional details once the final text has been released after the January 30 open meeting. In the meantime, please be aware that we can assist now with maps to identify potential areas where funding may be available and with any questions you may have regarding the RDOF or reverse auctions. Contact John Kuykendall or Cassandra Heyne at 301-459-7590 if you have any questions about RDOF or would like to get started on mapping potential target areas.