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FCC qualifies nearly 400 bidders for $16 billion rural broadband

Luxembourg, 14 October 2020. – The U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced that nearly 400 applicants are qualified to bid in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction in the U.S.

Beginning on 29 October 2020, 386 applicants may bid for up to $16 billion in support to bring broadband to up to 10.25 million unserved areas in the U.S., the FCC said yesterday. The list also names major players like Altice, Hughes, SpaceX, Verizon and Viasat.

“The number of qualified bidders represents a more than 75% increase in the number of bidders in 2018’s successful Connect America Fund Phase II auction,” the FCC said, “and also includes bidding consortia that contain multiple service providers. Qualified bidders will compete to receive up to $16 billion over ten years to provide broadband to wholly unserved areas, with priority given to bids for higher speeds (up to 1 Gbps) and lower latency.”

“With today’s announcement, we are taking one of the last steps before ringing the opening bell for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, our biggest and boldest step yet to bridge the digital divide for over 10 million unserved consumers across rural America,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “The unprecedented interest in this auction is due in large part to key decisions by the FCC, including providing substantial funding and promoting technological neutrality toward potential bidding participants, as well as our staff’s extensive work to spread awareness of the program and ensure the broadest participation in a competitive auction that will deliver real benefits to rural Americans across the country.”

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