FCC gives carriers just 11 days to enter for auction for rural US broadband

FCC gives carriers just 11 days to enter for auction for rural US broadband

The US telecoms regulator has asked for applications for a rural broadband auction – but has given prospective applicants only 11 days to submit proposals.


The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published its announcement last night, 19 March, but it says all applications must be in by the end of next week, Friday 30 March.

After that the auction itself is due to start on 24 July, said the regulator.

It will be a reverse auction, held under the auspices of part two of the Connect America Fund (CAF-II), that is intended to make available up to $1.98 billion in support over the next decade to help build out high-speed internet access to up to one million US rural homes and small businesses.

“This is a unique opportunity for broadband providers to expand their service,” said FCC chairman Ajit Pai. “More important, this is a unique opportunity to bring digital opportunity to parts of rural America that have been bypassed by the broadband revolution. So I hope that all eligible providers will give this opportunity a hard look and choose to participate.”

The FCC said that the auction will provide opportunities for new and existing providers using a variety of technologies to compete for support, including phone companies, fixed wireless providers, satellite providers, cable companies and rural electricity utilities. 

Note: In response to this story, Mark Wigfield, deputy director in the office of media relations at the FCC, emailed the following comment:

“Public notice and comment proceedings on the CAF II auction have been going on in earnest since May of 2016, and the date of the application window has been known since January 9 of this year when the Chairman released his initial draft of the final Public Notice, and confirmed on January 30, when the Commission voted on it. The Commission has also done extensive outreach to prospective bidders throughout the last year, including webinars on the auction generally and the bidding procedures specifically and a workshop on how to fill out the application itself. The press release [Capacity] saw yesterday was simply to announce that the application was officially available, but as I note above this was fully expected among prospective bidders.”

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