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FCC Completes Phase II CAF Auction

Randy Sukow / Aug 22, 2018

The FCC announced today that the bidding has ended in the Phase II Connect America Fund Auction. The Commission said that it would announce low bidders in the reverse in the various qualified regions within “a few business days.”

“When the CAF II Closing Pubic Notice is released, the complete auction round-by-round results, including bidder identities, will be available to bidders and to the public,” according to the announcement.

The auction lasted a little less than a month after bidding began on July 24. Rural telephone and electric cooperatives made a up a large percentage of the bidders that qualified for the auction for shares in $1.98 billion in support over 10 years. Satellite and fixed mobile broadband providers also were among the bidders.

Update Aug. 28:  The Commission today released the Phase II auction winners. As expected, the list includes many rural electric and telephone companies. In addition, a satellite broadband company, Viasat, will be among the recipients of universal service for the first time. The list also includes a handful of fixed wireless ISPs.

In total, the FCC is allocating $1.488 billion out of the $1.98 billion over 10 years that it set aside for the auction. The funding will pay for broadband in 713,176 currently unserved locations. In a press release, the Commission said that more than half of those locations will receive service speeds of 100 Mbps downstream or more.

“The successful conclusion of this first-of-its kind auction is great news for the residents of these rural communities, who will finally be able to share in the 21st-century digital opportunities that broadband provides,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai.

ISPs in 45 states placed low bids to qualify for support. Along with the winners list, the FCC released an interactive map showing which areas will receive support and the level of service bidders have promised to build. For example, the inset pictured here shows unserved regions north of Kansas City that are slated to get support. Winning bidders for the green regions are building gigabit services. In the red regions, the winners bid to build low-latency service above the baseline speed of 25 Mbps downstream/3 Mbps upstream.

The states that will be receiving the highest dollar amounts in support include Missouri ($254,773,118); California ($149,026,913); Oklahoma ($113,599,114), and Virginia ($108,923,613).

Viasat was the winning bidder to provide broadband to unserved portions of 20 different states. It will receive approximately $122.5 million in support over 10 years.  A group listed as “Rural Electric Cooperative Consortium” won bids to provide broadband in eight states for a total of $186,022,490.10 in support.

NRTC members receiving funding include:

  • Armstrong Telephone Co., Pennsylvania, $2,642,412.90 in support.
  • Barry Electric Cooperative, Missouri, $6,103,454.20.
  • BEK Communications Cooperative, North Dakota, $1,182,155.
  • Ben Lomand Communications, Tennessee, $333,796.70.
  • Benton Ridge Telephone Co., Ohio, $52,371,819.10 to provide service to parts of Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.
  • Chariton Valley Communications Corp., Missouri, $4,179,665.50.
  • Consolidated Telephone Co., Minnesota, $934,933.80.
  • Farmers Mutual Telephone Co., Minnesota, $348,991.60.
  • Federated Telephone Cooperative, Minnesota, $1,431,038.80.
  • Garden Valley Telephone Co., Minnesota, $880,346.
  • Halstad Telephone Co., Minnesota, $19,635.20.
  • Hardy Telecommunications, West Virginia, $47,435.40.
  • Horry Telephone Cooperative, Inc., South Carolina, $233,490.
  • Johnson Telephone Co., Minnesota, $81,272.50.
  • Maquoketa Valley REC, Iowa, $2,262,038.60.
  • Mark Twain Communications Co., Missouri, $3,053,366.20.
  • Paul Bunyan Rural Telephone Cooperative, Minnesota, $1,313,542.60.
  • Perry-Spencer Rural Telephone Cooperative, Indiana, $1,182,425.70.
  • Roseau Electric Cooperative, Minnesota, $2,081,769.70.
  • Shawnee Communications, Illinois, $1,714,708.
  • Tombigbee Communications, Alabama, $1,691,878.60.
  • Tri-County Rural Electric Cooperative, Pennsylvania. $32,326,228.30.
  • Tri-County Telephone Association, Wyoming, $7,017,177.50 to provide service to portions of Montana and Wyoming.
  • Twin Valley Communications, Kansas, $45,610.
  • Valley Communications Association, Nevada, $404,753.70.
  • Wabash Independent Networks, Illinois, $669,461.60.
  • West Central Telephone Association, Minnesota $611,934.40.
  • Wilkes Telephone Membership Corp., North Carolina, $32,820,017.20 to serve portions of North Carolina and Virginia.
  • Winnebago Cooperative Telecom Association, Iowa, $179,956.80.

Update, Aug. 29: NRECA CEO Jim Matheson released a statement after the Phase II results came out. “Today’s auction results highlight the power of cooperative partnerships and collaboration as electric co-ops work to bring broadband to unserved communities in rural America,” he said. “We are committed to continuing the rural broadband conversation and working with policymakers at the federal, state and local level on technology and funding solutions that will enrich the lives of rural American families and businesses.”

According to NRECA’s count, 33 rural electric cooperatives were winning bidders for a combined $220 million in CAF support.

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