The FCC today took the final actions required to launch its innovative Connect America Fund Phase II auction, which will provide up to nearly $2 billion over the next decade to expand fixed, high-speed Internet service in unserved rural areas.
In a Public Notice adopted today, the FCC scheduled the auction to begin on July 24, set a March 30 deadline for applications to participate, and set out detailed procedures for the auction. The FCC also adopted an Order on Reconsideration resolving all pending challenges to earlier FCC auction implementation decisions.
Nearly 1 million homes and businesses nationwide are in unserved rural areas where providers are eligible for support from the auction. Qualified providers will compete for support of up to $1.98 billion over the next decade to offer voice and broadband service in unserved areas where, absent subsidies, there is no business case for expanding or providing service.
By harnessing market forces, the auction is designed to provide consumers with high-quality, broadband service in an efficient, cost-effective way. The auction is the first reverse multiple-round auction to provide ongoing Connect America Fund support for fixed broadband and voice service in high-cost rural areas.
The auction will also provide opportunities for new entrants, regardless of technology, including rural telco, fixed wireless, satellite, cable, price cap, and electric utility broadband providers. To ensure successful participation by new entrants, the Public Notice details the FCC’s outreach and education plans for potential bidders, including online tutorials, workshops, webinars, and a mock auction.