Article

FCC RDOF Accountability Plan Seeks to Weed Out High-Risk Bidders

Randy Sukow

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Auction Gavel

The FCC’s 2020 Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) reverse auction attracted many critics who questioned the results and the qualifications on some who won funding for broadband projects. The Commission released an “Accountability Plan” (PDF) late Friday that would, among other things, double the number of RDOF audits and verifications in 2022 over 2021. (The Notice, however, does not indicate how many audits and verifications it conducted in 2021.) A Public Notice listing the latest RDOF awards and defaults accompanied the plan.

NRTC and NRECA were among many organizations that raised concerns about questionable RDOF bids in a filing to the FCC a year ago. Their analysis challenged the technology choices, financial resources, and the broadband expertise of several bidders.

The Commission said that some of its enhanced scrutiny of RDOF winners will be random, however, the Notice also says that “higher-risk recipients will be subject to additional audits and verifications.” The Notice does not specify the criteria for finding participants “higher-risk recipients.”

NRTC believes that its members and other community-based broadband providers are not the intended initial targets of additional verification and audits. NRTC members are established entities using proven technologies and are unlikely to get “high-risk” findings.

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