On June 25, 2020, the Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Economics and Analytics (“Bureau/OEA”) released a Public Notice announcing an updated list and map of eligible areas for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”) Phase I Auction (“Auction 904”) (AU Docket No. 20-34; WC Docket Nos. 19-126, 10-90). The final list of eligible areas will be released no later than three weeks prior to the start of bidding in Auction 904.

 

On March 17, 2020, the Bureau initiated a limited challenge process after releasing a preliminary list of eligible areas. The majority of challenges were submitted by FCC Form 477 filers identifying census blocks that became served with voice and 25/3 Mbps or better broadband service since June 30, 2019. These challenges were generally accepted and are reflected in the updated eligible areas list. However, 38 challengers claimed they had deployed broadband or voice service after June 2019 but reported no voice subscribers on their certified December 2019 FCC Form 477 subscription data. Therefore, those challengers’ data did not verify that they were providing voice services and the Bureau did not exclude those blocks from the updated eligible areas list.

 

Challenges filed by states and broadband providers identifying census blocks receiving federal or state broadband grants were generally removed from the eligible areas list after the Bureau verified that the grant recipient had a binding commitment to provide 25/3 Mbps or better broadband. The Bureau will continue to consult with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utilities Service (“RUS”) prior to publication of the final eligible areas and will remove areas that are within ReConnect Round 2 grants or loan and grant combinations in the final list.

 

The Bureau granted Charter’s challenge to certain census blocks in New York. The Bureau denied the following:

  • Frontier Communications Corporation’s (“Frontier”) Form 477 challenge for 16,987 blocks where it claimed it provides service of 25/3 Mbps or better broadband service. The Bureau also partially denied Frontier’s state subsidy challenge for 6,230 census blocks it claimed were subsidized by state broadband programs;
  • FDF Communication d/b/a BPS Networks’ (“FDF”) Form 477 challenge in Missouri and Arkansas;
  • Arrowhead Electric Cooperative Inc.’s (“Arrowhead”) untimely Form 477 challenge;
  • Inland Telephone Company’s request to exclude 19 census blocks from the auction;
  • Northwest Fiber’s request to exclude from eligibility areas it intends to deploy in satisfaction of a merger commitment made to the Montana Public Service Commission;
  • AT&T’s request to remove 3,754 census blocks from its June 2019 and December 2019 Form 477 filing;
  • CTS Telecom’s request to remove 99 census blocks from its June 2019 Form 477;
  • Edge Broadband and Worldwide Technologies Inc. d/b/a TurboNet’s (“TurboNet”) challenges;
  • Mobius Communications Company’s (“Mobius”) state subsidy challenge; and
  • LakeNet LLC (“LakeNet”) state subsidy challenge.

 

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