More than 220 bidders have been qualified to take part in FCC’s reverse Auction 903 for Connected America Phase II (CAFII) funding, which is set to begin on July 24. CAFII will inject $1.98B into the deployment of networks providing both voice and broadband service for people in unserved areas.
“The exciting news is that last month only 50 bidders were approved and more than 200 weren’t approved and that has now reversed itself,” said Paul Harris, president, Global Recruiters of Blackhawk. “Things are now moving at a quicker pace.”
Bidders include Tier One Carriers, rural telcos, satellite companies, cable companies, electric companies and wireless internet service providers.
“With several different telecom companies taking part, it opens up myriad opportunities for all of us in the telecom space,” said Harris, whose company might help fill the positions if auction winners decide to expand. “Over the past eight years, the capex spend has exceeded $226B, so I don’t think that spreading out $2B over the next 10 years will really move the needle much. But I do think it will give some of the other players (primarily non-Tier 1 wireless carriers) a chance to participate and grow in areas where, without the funding, the ROI just doesn’t pencil-out for them.”
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.