What is the RDOF?
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is a Federal Communications Commission program designed to close the digital divide in the United States by investing billions of dollars in the construction of rural broadband networks.
The budget allocated for this funding initiative amounts to $20.4 billion, which will be awarded over a 10-year period to winning providers after the auction process is complete. The RDOF will be split into two distinct phases:
“Up to” $16 billion will be made available to providers during this phase, which will likely last several years. Phase I will exclusively include census blocks that are completely unserved by an existing broadband provider, and is currently underway.
$4.4 billion, alongside any remaining Phase I funds, will be allocated during this second and final phase of the RDOF. Phase II will include remaining areas not completed in Phase I, as well as census blocks that are “partially serviced”.
RDOF Interactive Map
The RDOF could help to dramatically reshape the longstanding digital divide in the U.S. over the next decade by providing substantial funding and support to areas that are currently completely unserved by an existing broadband provider.
The interactive map below highlights in red every census block in the U.S. without a terrestrial broadband provider. This is a way of visualizing where providers have bid on establishing service using RDOF funds for Phase I. These funds are exclusively meant to go toward census blocks that are not currently served by any terrestrial broadband provider offering at least 25 Mbps download and 3 Mbps upload speeds.
Zoom in or enter an address in the search box on the map.
Understanding the FCC’s reverse auction process
Consider the mechanics of a standard auction: one seller is trying to maximize the amount that they receive for an item or service, so they allow multiple buyers to bid all at once on said item, thereby creating a competitive mechanism to increase the final price.
The FCC’s auction process works in the reverse: one buyer (in this case, the federal government) is attempting to drive down the price of the service, which is distributing broadband infrastructure to rural Americans. To accomplish this, bidding will be opened to multiple sellers, who are competing against each other to provide the best balance of technological robustness to price.
Major RDOF Auction Winners
The following ten companies were the largest recipients of RDOF Phase I funding:
|Company||Bidding entity||Amount||Locations||Number of states||Technology|
|LTD Broadband||LTD Broadband LLC||$1,320,920,718.60||528,088||15||fiber, fixed wireless|
|Charter||CCO Holdings, LLC (Charter Communications)||$1,222,613,870.10||1,057,695||24||fiber, cable|
|Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium||Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium||$1,104,395,953.00||618,476||22||fiber|
|SpaceX||Space Exploration Technologies Corp.||$885,509,638.40||642,925||35||low-Earth orbit broadband|
|Windstream||Windstream Services LLC, Debtor-In-Possession||$522,888,779.80||192,567||18||asymmetric xDSL, fiber, fixed wireless|
|Nextlink||AMG Technology Investment Group LLC||$429,228,072.90||206,136||12||fiber, fixed wireless|
|Frontier||Frontier Communications Corporation, DIP||$370,900,832.80||127,188||8||fiber, fixed wireless|
|Resound Networks||Resound Networks, LLC||$310,681,608.90||219,239||7||fiber, fixed wireless|
|Starry||Connect Everyone LLC||$268,851,315.90||108,506||9||fiber, fixed wireless|
|CenturyLink||CenturyLink, Inc.||$262,367,614.20||77,257||20||asymmetric xDSL, fiber|
How the RDOF promotes future-proofing of technologies and services
The FCC stated that the auction process placed priority on networks with faster download and upload speeds, and lower levels of latency. This ideally creates a forcing function toward more robust technologies such as fiber, which will, in the agency’s own words, “ensure that those benefiting from these networks will be able to use tomorrow’s internet applications as well as today’s”. At the same time, the FCC bills its process as being “technologically neutral,” offering multiple performance tiers for service providers to bid on.
RDOF Technology Tiers
The FCC is using the following weighted scale to allow providers to bid for FDOF funding.
|Performance Tier||Speeds Required||Bandwidth Allowance||Weight|
|Minimum||≥ 25/3 Mbps||≥ 250 GB or U.S. average, whichever is higher||50|
|Baseline||≥ 50/5 Mbps||≥ 250 GB or U.S. median, whichever is higher||35|
|Above baseline||≥ 100/20 Mbps||≥ 2 TB||20|
|Gigabit||≥ 1 Gbps/500 Mbps||≥ 2 TB||0|
Additionally, latency is also factored into the process using the following weighted scale:
|Low Latency||≤ 100 ms||0|
|High Latency||≤ 750 ms & MOS of ≥4||40|
The organization states the following about the bidding process itself:
“Bids will be considered simultaneously, so that bidders proposing to meet one set of performance standards compete directly against bidders that propose to meet other performance standards. Bids will be placed as a percentage of the reserve price for the area subject to the bid in a descending clock auction, with lower bids selected first, with a preference for higher speeds and lower latency. The support amount that a winning bidder receives accounts for any weights associated with the performance tier and latency.”
Which Areas and Providers Are Eligible for RDOF Funding?
The FCC currently plans to make funds available for providers to build service out in census blocks where no provider “is offering, or has committed to offering, either via the CAF II auction, the USDA ReConnect program, or state-specific programs, service of at least 25/3 Mbps…” This will be determined using the organization’s existing Form 477 deployment data, which uses census blocks as its level of granularity. An initial list of eligible census blocks was published on March 17th, 2020, which underwent a challenge period before a final list was ultimately decided upon and published on October 8th, 2020.
For a given internet service provider to be eligible for funding, they must begin to offer at least one voice and one broadband service to the service area in question. In addition, the eligibility conditions require that winning providers must service 40% of the locations in a given state by the end of the third year of the program, alongside an additional 20% by the end of both the fourth and fifth years. A full list of buildout requirements can be found here.
By the end of the sixth year of support, the FCC will review the service progress for each award winner, and determine how much more deployment is needed to fulfill the obligations of the program. This includes accounting for locations that are built after the initial location numbers were generated, on a case by case basis.
Curious about the current internet landscape in the United States?
- See how all 50 states rank for internet access, pricing, and speeds.
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RDOF Electric Coop Consortium Phase I Winners
Five consortiums of electric cooperatives were awarded funds during Phase I of the RDOF. These groups created consortiums in order to pool resources and receive more funding. The FCC required each consortium to divide winnings amongst members by December 22nd, 2020.
|Consortium||No. of Coops||Amount Won||States Covered|
|Co-op Connections Consortium||13||$61,485,589.50||8|
|NRTC Phase I RDOF Consortium||51||$156,714,678.20||14|
|RDOF USA Consortium||21||$112,044,022.70||5|
|Prospero Broadband Consortium||9||$100,366,008.80||3|
|Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium||95||$1,104,395,953.00||22|
Problems with the RDOF Methodology
The RDOF represents one of the most ambitious funding initiatives that the FCC has ever undertaken, hoping to bring robust access to millions of American households over a 10-year period. However, as mentioned above, the data that the FCC is using to determine which areas of the country are eligible for funding relies on the organization’s own Form 477 reporting mechanism.
This reporting system has many well-documented issues, chief among them being the language of the form itself. Providers can mark an entire census block as “serviced” if so little as one address within the block is truly wired for service. Because census blocks can often include dozens, or even hundreds of homes, this can lead to vast amounts of over-reporting of service in communities across the country.
July 1st, 2020
Initial short-form application window opened, allowing providers to file for funding.
July 15h, 2020
Initial short-from application window was closed.
October 29th, 2020
Phase I Bidding Process began, wherein the FCC will determine winners of the reverse auction process.
The FCC will open the final, long-form application window for winning providers, and will begin the distribution of initial funds accordingly.
Full List of RDOF Phase I Auction Winners
Below is a complete list of all companies and consortiums that were awarded Phase I RDOF funds, the amount in USD that each won, and how many locations they have agreed to serve.
|Bidding entity||Amount||Locations||Number of states|
|Etheric Communications LLC||$248,634,963.10||64,463||1|
|California Internet, L.P. dba GeoLinks||$234,889,665.70||128,297||3|
|Consortium of AEG and Heron Broadband I||$194,378,552.00||49,599||2|
|NRTC Phase I RDOF Consortium||$156,714,678.20||125,335||14|
|Segnem Egere Consortium||$152,854,440.70||57,387||3|
|RDOF USA Consortium||$112,044,022.70||63,830||5|
|Prospero Broadband Consortium||$100,366,008.80||61,799||3|
|Point Broadband Fiber Holding, LLC||$78,414,413.10||34,472||5|
|Mercury Wireless, Inc.||$68,310,842.00||167,684||6|
|Co-op Connections Consortium||$61,485,589.50||26,909||8|
|Consolidated Communications, Inc.||$58,873,337.50||27,021||7|
|Frontier Communications Northwest, LLC||$57,202,650.80||21,336||4|
|Talkie Communications, Inc.||$57,065,010.20||39,098||2|
|Citynet West Virginia, LLC||$53,516,858.30||13,460||1|
|Computer 5, Inc. d/b/a LocalTel Communications||$48,818,171.30||12,530||1|
|Wilkes Telephone Membership Corporation||$46,055,343.40||39,870||2|
|Bay Springs Telephone Company, Inc.||$41,871,850.10||22,011||3|
|Continental Divide Electric Cooperative||$38,004,786.20||8,485||1|
|Commnet Wireless, LLC||$28,436,936.10||19,028||10|
|GigaBeam Networks, LLC||$28,067,881.20||9,072||2|
|Cincinnati Bell Inc.||$26,887,580.40||11,131||4|
|Aptitude Internet LLC||$24,655,295.20||13,535||1|
|Armstrong Telephone Company – Northern Division||$22,009,640.50||10,495||3|
|Grain Communications Opportunity Fund II, L.P.||$19,172,673.60||5,887||3|
|Arrowhead Electric Cooperative, Inc.||$18,462,273.10||4,879||1|
|Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative||$16,307,892.10||5,088||1|
|Direct Communications Rockland, Inc.||$15,745,252.70||2,120||1|
|Connecting Rural America||$14,180,599.00||5,076||4|
|Blackfoot Telephone Cooperative, Inc.||$12,703,077.60||2,687||1|
|Halstad Telephone Company||$12,141,118.40||1,820||2|
|South Arkansas Telephone Company||$11,387,245.50||5,093||1|
|Pine Belt Communications, Inc.||$11,126,003.10||4,220||1|
|Centre WISP Venture Company, LLC||$11,086,348.40||6,607||1|
|Emery Telephone dba Emery Telcom||$9,822,853.00||1,602||1|
|Digital Connections Inc. dba PRODIGI||$8,583,001.40||4,771||1|
|Rural American Broadband Consortium||$8,471,858.10||3,671||6|
|Chariton Valley Communications Corporation||$8,070,272.00||5,002||1|
|Northern Arapaho Tribal Industries||$7,799,035.00||2,408||1|
|Hamilton County Telephone Co-op||$7,796,825.30||2,351||1|
|St. John Telco||$7,116,876.00||1,057||1|
|Cox Communications, Inc.||$6,636,520.50||8,212||9|
|Reedsburg Utility Commission||$6,439,594.10||4,488||1|
|Hawaii Dialogix Telecom LLC||$6,009,953.00||1,395||3|
|Tennessee Cooperative Group Consortium||$5,981,516.90||7,625||3|
|Peoples Telecom, LLC||$5,668,121.40||2,431||1|
|Cherry Capital Connection, LLC||$5,620,840.40||2,791||1|
|Pioneer Wireless, Inc||$5,543,142.00||1,638||1|
|Atlantic Broadband Finance, LLC||$5,407,684.70||3,876||1|
|Hotwire Communications, Ltd||$5,150,040.00||3,233||1|
|Shenandoah Cable Television, LLC||$5,059,616.50||8,642||2|
|Wisper-CABO 904 Consortium||$4,974,442.30||3,453||13|
|Visionary Communications, Inc.||$4,450,264.40||4,184||2|
|DoCoMo Pacific, Inc.||$3,706,235.00||530||1|
|Daviess-Martin County Rural Telephone Corporation||$3,565,039.40||1,371||1|
|Rivers High Group||$3,540,398.10||1,315||1|
|Great Plains Consortium||$3,427,873.30||1,879||3|
|Cellular Services LLC.||$3,294,968.60||2,142||1|
|City of Farmington||$3,179,884.50||1,106||1|
|Pine Cellular Phones, Inc.||$2,303,742.10||2,459||1|
|Mediacom Communications Corporation||$2,254,655.00||9,752||4|
|Hankins Information Technology||$2,171,844.50||3,727||1|
|BEK Communications Cooperative||$2,157,719.00||337||1|
|TruVista Communications, Inc.||$2,059,050.80||2,778||1|
|Minnesota Connections c/o Consolidated Tel Company||$2,040,278.70||979||1|
|Horizon Communications, Inc.||$2,033,292.00||609||1|
|Custer Telephone Cooperative, Inc.||$1,954,488.00||313||1|
|Bandera Electric Cooperative, Inc.||$1,689,601.50||534||1|
|NBVDS Investment, L.L.C.||$1,655,443.40||2,387||1|
|Central Arkansas Telephone Cooperative, Inc.||$1,629,930.50||1,004||1|
|Siuslaw Broadband, LLC dba Hyak Technologies||$1,611,684.90||554||1|
|HomeTown Broadband, Inc.||$1,424,229.00||1,295||1|
|Hughes Network Systems, LLC||$1,273,784.00||3,678||1|
|Union Telephone Company||$1,264,770.00||157||1|
|Roseau Electric Cooperative, Inc.||$1,228,494.00||266||1|
|Safelink Internet LLC||$1,197,661.50||2,728||1|
|Pembroke Telephone Company, Inc.||$1,053,063.00||601||1|
|Fond du Lac Communications Inc.||$1,046,123.00||728||1|
|Wikstrom Telephone Company||$983,637.00||228||1|
|SLIC Network Solutions, Inc.||$978,722.00||3,660||1|
|Altice USA, Inc.||$849,880.00||5,220||6|
|DTC Cable, Inc.||$834,597.00||481||1|
|Nova Cablevision, Inc.||$785,400.00||155||1|
|Farmers Mutual Telephone Company||$759,822.00||332||1|
|Scott County Telephone Cooperative, Inc.||$755,841.60||2,406||2|
|Horry Telephone Cooperative, Inc.||$729,554.50||2,267||1|
|Terral Telephone Company||$716,381.20||2,299||1|
|Worldwide Technologies, Inc.||$700,874.20||496||1|
|Somerset Telephone Co., Inc.||$669,564.00||1,208||1|
|AB Indiana LLC||$668,304.10||261||1|
|Albion Telephone Company, Inc.||$599,795.70||141||1|
|Palmetto Telephone Communications, LLC||$570,024.00||264||1|
|Federated Telephone Cooperative||$537,399.00||248||1|
|Daktel Communications, LLC||$531,894.00||66||1|
|Redzone Wireless, LLC||$507,752.00||755||1|
|MEI Telecom, Inc.||$479,789.10||175||1|
|Zito West Holding, LLC||$457,596.00||279||1|
|Baraga Telephone Company||$444,490.80||164||1|
|Lakeland Communications Group, LLC||$408,952.00||550||1|
|Heart of the Catskills Comm. Inc., dba MTC Cable||$398,574.00||188||1|
|LigTel Communications, Inc.||$385,924.00||416||1|
|Citizens Vermont Acquisition Corporation||$373,680.00||316||1|
|Allen’s T.V. Cable Service, Inc.||$371,348.10||620||1|
|Plains Internet, LLC||$345,624.00||250||3|
|Reservation Telephone Cooperative||$337,080.00||73||1|
|Miles Communications LLC||$316,641.00||106||1|
|Mountain View Telephone Company||$298,572.00||43||1|
|Socket Telecom, LLC||$232,768.80||393||1|
|St Paul Cooperative Telephone Association||$190,908.00||39||1|
|Easton Utilities Commission||$189,047.60||909||1|
|Mountain West Technologies Corporation||$141,801.20||690||1|
|One Ring Networks, Inc.||$137,715.00||2,061||3|
|Hamilton Long Distance Company||$128,560.30||167||1|
|Bruce Telephone Company, Inc.||$113,745.00||32||1|
|Winnebago Cooperative Telecom Association||$104,637.80||248||2|
|WC Fiber, LLC||$98,189.50||945||1|
|Net Ops Communications, LLC||$69,676.40||1,586||1|
|Gardonville Cooperative Telephone Association||$63,903.00||24||1|
|Northeast Missouri Rural Telephone Company||$60,126.00||7||1|
|Skywave Wireless, Inc.||$57,660.00||12||1|
|MARQUETTE-ADAMS TELEPHONE COOPERATIVE, INC.||$55,378.00||66||1|
|yondoo Broadband LLC||$54,833.80||110||1|
|Pioneer Long Distance, Inc.||$50,994.00||1,346||1|
|All West Communications, Inc.||$46,648.00||218||1|
|XIT Telecommunication & Technology||$43,254.50||464||1|
|Corn Belt Telephone||$42,237.00||38||1|
|WTC Communications, Inc.||$40,845.20||174||1|
|MCC Network Services, LLC||$36,204.00||72||1|
|Pinpoint Bidding Coalition||$31,254.00||32||1|
|Wood County Telephone Company d/b/a Solarus||$28,848.00||15||1|
|KanOkla Telephone Association||$26,538.00||90||2|
|Yucca Telecommunications Systems, Inc.||$26,221.00||19||1|
|IdeaTek Telcom, LLC||$23,590.60||89||1|
|Home Communications, Inc.||$15,540.00||54||1|
|Barry Technology Services, LLC||$14,502.00||26||1|
|LR Communications, Inc.||$13,974.00||24||1|
|Farmers Mutual Cooperative Telephone Company||$12,447.00||25||1|
|PVT NetWorks, Inc.||$12,039.00||38||1|
|Baldwin Telecom, Inc.||$11,370.00||15||1|
|H&B Communication’s, Inc.||$11,301.60||47||1|
|NTS Communications, LLC||$8,923.00||13||1|
|W. T. Services, Inc.||$8,785.70||177||1|
|Computer Techniques, Inc. dba CTI Fiber||$8,509.00||12||1|
|Sandhill Telephone Cooperative, Inc.||$6,396.00||1||1|
|Taylor Telephone Coop., Inc. dba Taylor Telecom||$5,466.00||2||1|
|Peoples Communication, LLC.||$4,140.00||4||1|
|Plateau Telecommunications, Inc.||$3,150.00||2||1|
|Coleman County Telephone Cooperative, Inc.||$3,142.80||11||1|
|Unified Communications Inc.||$1,604.00||17||1|
|Carolina West Wireless, Inc.||$460.00||28||1|
About the data
Like our National Broadband Map, most of the data used to generate the map above comes from the FCC’s Form 477 deployment information. Due to the well-documented limitations of this dataset, we have also leveraged our own extensive database of information given to us by internet providers directly or retrieved from publicly available resources, including more granular availability data. Specifically for this map, the data highlights the census blocks without providers offering cable, DSL, fiber, or fixed wireless internet to indicate areas where the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund could apply resources.