FCC fund provides $7.8M to expand broadband in county

Published 3:11 pm Monday, December 7, 2020

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced Monday than an estimated 378,000 people living and working in rural Alabama will gain access to high-speed broadband internet service through the Phase 1 auction for the commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).

Auction results released Monday showed that more than $330.8 million had been allocated in Alabama to expand broadband to 196,640 unserved homes and businesses across the state over the next 10 years.

Of that money, more than $7.8 million has been allocated to three agencies in Dallas County – Pine Belt Communications received $1,182,437 to expand service to 474 locations, the RDOF USA Consortium received $4,165,430 to expand service to more than 1,500 location and Space Exploration Technologies Corporation received $2,489,868 to expand service to more than 1,700 locations.

According to the FCC press release, nearly all of the locations in Alabama that were eligible for the auction are set to receive access to broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 megabits per second (mbps), with 78 percent getting gigabit-speed broadband.

“This historic auction is great news for the residents of so many rural Alabama communities, who will get access to high-quality broadband service in areas that for too long have been on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in the press release.  “We structured this innovative and groundbreaking auction to prioritize bids for high-speed, low-latency services to deliver the best results for rural Americans, and the results show that this strategy worked.  This auction was the Commission’s single largest step ever taken toward delivering digital opportunity to every American and is another key success in our ongoing commitment to universal service.”

According to the press release, the Phase 1 auction is “part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America.”

In October, the FCC created the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion over the next 10 years to bring 5G wireless service to rural parts of the nation.

Along with Dallas County, neighboring Autauga County received a total of more than $5.3 million, Lowndes County received more than $5.08 million, Marengo County received more than $2.8 million, Perry County received more than $7.1 million and Wilcox County received more than $3.4 million in RDOF dollars.