Broadband Communities

MAY-JUN 2018

BROADBAND COMMUNITIES is the leading source of information on digital and broadband technologies for buildings and communities. Our editorial aims to accelerate the deployment of Fiber-To-The-Home and Fiber-To-The-Premises.

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BROADBAND FUNDING | B R O A D B A N D C O M M U N I T I E S | w w w. b r o a d b a n d c o m m u n i t i e s . c o m | M AY / J U N E 2 0 1 8 Federal Funding For Rural Broadband If you're wondering which rural broadband funding programs to apply for – or which will solve the rural broadband problem – here's a brief primer. By Jonathan Chambers / Conexon O ver the past decade, federal programs that support broadband have adopted various approaches to determining who gets funding where: grant applications, auctions, portable consumer subsidies and legacy subsidies for incumbent telephone companies. e following is a primer on the five largest sources of federal funds for rural broadband and the mechanisms currently in place. CAF II AUCTION Amount: Up to $198 million per year over a 10-year period Geographic Area: High-cost census blocks unserved by 10/1 Mbps in price-cap carrier (for example, AT&T) areas in which the price-cap carrier turned down a statewide offer of funding, a census block was part of the 1 percent of the country deemed too costly to fund through the offer to price-cap carriers, or a bidder in the rural broadband experiment auction provided the FCC with additional information demonstrating an interest in participating in the CAF II auction Process: e FCC will conduct a national, multiple-round, descending clock auction in two stages in which competing bidders commit to make available to locations in census block groups voice and internet service at a level ranging from 10/1 Mbps to gigabit service. Comment: Now that we've entered the quiet period for the CAF II auction, let me just wish good luck to all bidders. More important, I wish all rural Americans living in the eligible areas the good fortune of having a gigabit tier bidder rather than a 10/1 Mbps bidder win in their service area. Someday, I hope rural Americans get to make their own decisions about the appropriate level of service wherever they live instead of relying on the vagaries of an auction. e FCC has worked for years to put this auction together, and Chairman Pai and his staff deserve credit for getting the job done. OMNIBUS APPROPRIATIONS: RURAL BROADBAND PILOT Amount: $600 million in loans and grants administered by RUS Geographic Area: Areas in which at least 90 percent of the households do not have access to 10/1 Mbps (a threshold that may be reevaluated annually) Process: TBD Comment: With a new administrator who was CEO of the electric co-op that launched the first gigabit service in rural America, RUS has an opportunity to demonstrate it knows rural broadband. My recommendations on program structure are as follows: First, make funding available only in rural areas where federal funds are currently not spent and not available. In most of rural America, the FCC administers universal service programs that already make funds available, which includes the

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