The FCC began its Connect America Fund Phase II (CAFII) reverse auction this week, which will provide up to $2 billion over the next decade to bring fixed broadband to unserved areas in rural America. More than 220 bidders were qualified to take part in the auction.
“I’m pleased to report that the FCC has been taking significant steps to expand broadband deployment in previously unserved parts of our country,” FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a statement before Congress.
In the reverse auction, companies will bid for how much they will charge the government to build out a certain area. The money to pay them comes out of the Connect American Fund. Among the bidders are rural electric cooperatives, fixed wireless providers, incumbent local exchange carriers, cable companies, and satellite providers.
Bidders include Tier One Carriers, rural telcos, satellite companies, cable companies, electric companies and wireless internet service providers.
CAF-II is part of the Commission’s reform and modernization of its universal service support programs, which endeavor to ensure that those in unserved or underserved, usually rural, areas have access to broadband services. It will provide $198 million in annual support (a total of $1.98 billion for 10 years). The Commission adopted a $2.15 billion total budget for the Phase II auction but set aside up to $170.4 million total to allocate through the New York State Broadband Program.