The FCC kicked off bidding for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction on Thursday. It will target up to $16 billion to deploy networks to serve up to 10+ million Americans with no access to fixed broadband service meeting the Commission’s benchmark speeds.
The auction has attracted significant interest, with 386 providers qualified to bid, representing a more than 75 percent increase over the number that qualified for the Commission’s 2018 Connect America Phase II auction.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called Auction 904 “historic,” and said it represents a “major investment in rural America that will benefit the entire country.”
Eligibility for participation is technologically neutral and open to new providers, and the bidding procedures prioritize bids for higher speeds (up to 1 Gbps). The auction will proceed using a multi-round, descending clock auction format. In each round, participants will indicate whether they will bid to provide service to an area at a given performance tier and latency at the current round’s support amount. The auction will end after the aggregate support amount of all bids is less than or equal to the total $16 billion budget, and competition for support in any given area no longer exists.
Round one bidding was to last six hours; results were not released at press time.