In a recent reverse auction, LTD Broadband surprised industry analysts when it came out as a big winner in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) program. That initial surprise has generated an official inquiry to the FCC, reports Telecompetitor.com.
The Minnesota Telecom Alliance and the Iowa Communications Alliance told the agency in a joint filing that “there is no indication that LTD has the technical, engineering, financial, operational, management, staff, or other resources to meet RDOF build-out and service obligations.”
LTD Broadband delivers broadband services in Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wisconsin, largely via wireless internet service providers. The company won the auction by promising fiber delivery and gigabit speed, however some in the industry don’t think the company can deliver, even with $1.3 billion in funds, according to the account.
Inside Towers reported other complaints about RDOF awardees. The agency has said it will vet each application thoroughly.
Doug Dawson, President of CCG Consulting, said the auction result “means the FCC believes that fixed wireless technology is the functional equivalent of fiber” even though the current transmission capabilities “can’t be used to deliver giant bandwidth to more than a few customers – and it’s not really designed to deliver gigabit download, and certainly not a symmetrical gigabit.” He added, “By allowing WISPS to claim gigabit capabilities, the FCC cheated huge numbers of people out of getting fiber.”
Others in the industry have argued that larger, better providers were taken out of the bidding early when “clearing rounds” of the reverse auction eliminated them. LTD Broadband advanced by promising high connection speeds at the gigabit tier along with low prices, according to the account.
Telecompetitor reported that Corey Hauer of LTD Broadband has issued previous statements noting, “Our theory is that it’s going to be easier to do in rural areas. Fiber is primarily a labor proposition. With a fiber plow that puts fiber in the ground, you can go at walking speed.” Hauer continued, “Fiber is the source of the river, and in many cases, we also will use fiber at the end. For RDOF, where we would consider FWA would be the middle mile…. It might be mountain top to mountain top where we could do multi-gigabit microwave links as part of this. In most cases we’ll be able to run fiber.”