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Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) on Schedule

March, 2020
By Mike Dunne

The Coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc on America's economy and most everyone's day-to-day work environments, not to mention daily lives. The FCC, however, is still planning to launch Phase 1 of their Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) auction on October 22, 2020 as previously scheduled. While some may question the wisdom of pushing the auction forward in the midst of an economic downturn, subsequent reports from just about every level of government and the private sector confirm one fact: Broadband is more critical today than ever.

The consortium, led by FiberRise and featuring the top team of former FCC senior executives now at Quadra Partners, is working hard to ensure electric utilities have everything they need to make an informed decision regarding their participation in the RDOF auction. The FiberRise team is dedicated to helping electric cooperatives and other power providers serve their communities with the best performing broadband architecture available - an architecture FiberRise has dubbed Utility Grade Broadband. urges all electric utilities to reach out to us and learn more about the benefits of consortium membership as it relates to RDOF success. Rather than using a one-size fits all approach, we offer three success-based membership stages:

  • Stage 1: performs a thorough utility grade broadband feasibility study complete with an initial RDOF analysis, and we work closely with the subject utility to prepare a clear picture regarding broadband project viability, both with and without RDOF funding.
  • Stage 2: For those utilities whose projects are viable - whether RDOF funding is the proverbial icing on the cake or some level of RDOF is required to cash-flow a sustainable utility grade broadband network for their members - stage 2 offers a low-cost solution for complete business case customization, auction preparation, and live auction assistance.
  • Stage 3: The old axiom states, "Prior planning prevents poor performance." Stage 2 RDOF support recipients can move seamlessly into stage 3 - project implementation - working directly with FiberRise to construct utility grade broadband for their memberships. Stage 3 also includes support for RDOF reporting and other requirements.

Because of the FCC's urgency to distribute RDOF funds and bridge the digital divide - a problem brought into stark focus by COVID-19 - electric utilities need to be keenly aware of the funding program's timeline and the need to move forward quickly.

Key RDOF dates:

  • April 10, 2020: Deadline to challenge RDOF eligible locations
  • May 2020 (estimated): FCC expected to confirm final eligible location
  • June 30, 2020: Deadline to join consortium
  • July 2020: Expected RDOF Phase 1 short-form application window
  • August - September 2020: Consortium members develop auction and bidding strategies
  • October 22, 2020: RDOF auction begins
  • Early 2021: RDOF Phase 1 long-form application window
  • Late 2021 - early 2022: FCC formal award of Phase 1 RDOF support to certified applicants

The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted an even greater need for broadband in rural America and the consortium is ready to help electric utilities bridge that gap and deliver utility grade broadband solutions for education, telemedicine, e-commerce and more. Contact us today and let us help you understand if RDOF is the broadband catalyst you need.

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