The FCC has announced that over $640 million of funding will be made available through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. The investment will be used for new broadband deployments in 26 states and will cover nearly 250,000 locations.
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund has already provided over $4.7B in Broadband funding for nearly 300 carriers in 47 states serving over 2.6M U.S. locations.
On January 30, 2020, the Commission adopted the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Report and Order, which establishes the framework for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, building on the success of the CAF Phase II auction by using reverse auctions in two phases. The Phase I auction, which began on October 29, 2020, and ended on November 25, 2020, awarded support to bring broadband to over five million homes and businesses in census blocks that were entirely unserved by voice and broadband with download speeds of at least 25 Mbps. Phase II will cover locations in census blocks that are partially served, as well as locations not funded in Phase I. The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will ensure that networks stand the test of time by prioritizing higher network speeds and lower latency, so that those benefitting from these networks will be able to use tomorrow’s Internet applications as well as today’s.
- Sending letters to 197 applicants concerning areas where there was evidence of existing service or questions of waste. Bidders have already chosen not to pursue support in approximately 5,000 census blocks in response to the Commission’s letters.
- Denying waivers for winning bidders that have not made appropriate efforts to secure state approvals or prosecute their applications. These bidders would have otherwise received approximately $350 million.
- Conducting an exhaustive technical, financial, and legal review of all winning bidders.
- A list of the eligible census blocks covered by the winning bids announced today is available under the “Results” tab.
- For a list of RDOF providers and funding amounts by state is at: https://www.fcc.gov/auction/904.
March 25th Update:
The FCC has authorized more than $313 million through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund to finance new broadband deployments in 19 states bringing service to over 130,000 locations. This is the eighth round of funding in the program, which to date has provided over $5 billion in funding for new deployments in 47 states to bring broadband to over 2.8 million locations.
“The funding announced today will help hundreds of thousands of Americans get access to high-speed, reliable broadband service,” said Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “We continue our expanded oversight of this program through the Rural Broadband Accountability Plan to make sure that applicants deliver services as promised to areas that truly need help.”
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund aims to fund new broadband deployments in areas across the U.S. with limited or no connectivity.
The winning bidders from the latest round are:
- Carolina Telephone and Telegraph
- Central Telephone Company of Virginia
- Central Virginia Services
- CenturyLink of Louisiana
- CenturyTel of Alabama
- CenturyTel of Michigan
- CenturyTel of Montana
- CenturyTel of Northwest Arkansas
- CenturyTel of the Midwest – Wisconsin
- CenturyTel of Washington
- Co-Mo Comm
- Columbia Fiber
- Embarq Florida
- Jasper County Rural Electric Membership Corporation
- LigTel Communications
- Qwest Corporation
- South Central ConnectSpectra Communications Group
- Tri-County Electric Cooperative
2017 SPIFFY Awards:
Seven pioneering start-up companies were recognized by the Service Provider Innovation Forum (SPIF) at the 10th Annual SPIFFY Awards held Wednesday evening November 1st at TC3 Summit.
Since 2001, the Telecom Council has worked to identify and recognize companies who represent a broad range of cutting-edge telecom products and services. From there, dozens of young companies are presented each month to the Service Provider Innovation Forum (SPIF), ComTech Forum, IoT Forum, and Investor Forum.
SPIF members, who represent cutting-edge telcos from over 50 countries and who serve over 3B subscribers, selected seven companies from hundreds of presenting communication startup companies and 30 SPIFFY nominees as best-in-class in their respective categories. Each winner, who is set apart for their dedication, technical vision, and interest from the global service provider community, is a company to watch in the telecommunication industry.
The winners below represent the best and brightest in their respective categories:
- The Graham Bell Award for Best Communication Solutions – Sightcall : a cloud API that enables any business to add rich communications (e.g. video), accessible with a single touch, in the context of their application.
- Edison Award for Most Innovative Startup – DataRPM: cognitive preventive maintenance platform.
- San Andreas Award for Most Disruptive Technology – Veniam: networking solution for future autonomous vehicles; mobile WiFi done right.
- Core Award for Best Fixed Telecom Opportunity – Datera: storage and data management for service providers, private cloud, digital business via “Datera elastic data fabric software.”
- Zephyr Award for Best Mobile Opportunity – AtheerAir: augmented reality solutions for industrial enterprises.
- Ground Breaker Award for Engineering Excellence – Cinova: virtual reality streaming at practical bit rates using Cinova’s cloud server technology.
- Prodigy Award for the Most Successful SPIF Alumni – Plex: streaming media server and apps to stream video, audio and photo collections on any device.
This year’s entrepreneurs had a chance to vote on the operators as well, to give a shout out to those telcos who were supportive, approachable, and helpful to young and growing telecom companies. The entreprenneurs chose Verizon.
- Fred & Ginger Award for the Most Supportive Carrier – Verizon.
The SPIFFY nominees attended the awards ceremony along with 50 global fixed and wireless communications companies and over 300 industry professionals. Photos of the event can be found on Telecom Council’s blog and Instagram pages. Note that none of this year’s SPIFFY award winners, with the possible exception of Veniam, actually provide a connectivity (PHY, MAC/Data Link layer) solution.
Author’s Notes on three impressive start-ups that presented at TC3 on November 1st (only day I attended 2017 TC3):
1. In a session titled “Closing the Rural Broadband Gap,” Skyler Ditchfield, CEO of GeoLinks, provided an overview of his company’s success in providing high-speed broadband to schools and libraries using fixed wireless technologies, specifically microwave radio operating in several frequency bands. The company’s flagship service is ClearFiber™, which offers customers fixed wireless broadband service on the most resilient and scalable networkSkyler described the advantages of their 100% in house approach to engineering, design, land procurement, construction and data connectivity. GeoLinks approach offers gigabit plus speeds at a fraction of the cost of fiber with lower latency and rapid deployment across the country.
A broadband fixed wireless installation on Santa Catalina island was particularly impressive. Speeds on the island (which GeoLinks says is 41 miles offshore) are typically 300 Mbps, and the ultra-fast broadband connection provides support for essential communications services, tourism services, and commerce. GeoLinks successfully deployed Mimosa Network´s fiber-fast broadband solutions to bring high-speed Internet access to the island community for the first time in its history. Connecting the island to the mainland at high speeds was very challenging. GeoLinks ultimately selected Mimosa for the last mile of the installation, deploying Mimosa A5 access and C5 client devices throughout the harbor town of Avalon.
Another ClearFiber™ successful deployment was at Robbins Elementary school in California. It involved 19 miles of fixed broadband wireless transport to provide the school with broadband Internet access.
Skyler said that next year, GeoLinks planned to deliver fixed wireless transport at 10G b/sec over 6 to 8 miles in the 5Ghz unlicensed band- either point to point OR point to multi-point. The company is considering 6GHz, 11GHz, 18Ghz and 20Ghz FCC licensed bands. He said it would be important for GeoLinks to get licensed spectrum for point to multi-point transmission.
More on GeoLinks value proposition here and here. And a recent blog post about Skyler Ditchfield who told the TC3 audience he grew up fascinated by communications technologies. This author was very impressed with Skyler and GeoLinks!
2. In a panel on “Startup Success Stories,” Nitin Motgi, founder and CEO of Cask (a “big data” software company) talked about how long it took to seal a deal with telcos. It’s longer than you might think! In one case, Nitin said it was 18 months from the time an unnamed telco agreed to purchase Cask’s solution (based on a proof of concept demo) till the contract was actually signed and sealed. Nitin referred to the process of selling to telcos as “whale hunting.” However, he said that if you succeed it’s worth it because of the telco’s scale of business.
3. Tracknet Co-Founder and CEO Hardy Schmidbauer presented a 5 minute “fast pitch” to the Telecom Council Service Provider Forum. He talked about his company’s highly scalable LPWAN/ IoT network solutions: “TrackNet provides LoRaWAN IoT solutions for consumers and industry, focusing on ease of use and scalability to enable a “new era” of exponentially growing LPWAN deployments.” The company is a contributing member of the LoRa Alliance and the TrackNet team has been instrumental in specifying, building, and establishing LoRaWAN and the LoRa Alliance for more than five years. The founding Tracknet team includes veterans from IBM and Semtech who were instrumental in the development of LoRa and LoRaWAN.
With “Tabs,” Tracknet combines a WiFi connected IoT home and tracker system with LoRaWAN network coverage built from indoor Tabs hubs.
About the Telecom Council: The Telecom Council of Silicon Valley connects the companies who are building communication networks, with the people and ideas that are creating them – by putting those companies, research, ideas, capital and human expertise from across the globe together in the same room. Last year, The Telecom Council connected over 2,000 executives from 750 telecom companies and 60 fixed and wireless carriers across 40 meeting topics. By joining, speaking, sponsoring, or simply participating in a meeting, there are many ways telecom companies of any size can leverage the Telecom Council network. For more information visit: https://www.telecomcouncil.com.
A follow up TC3 blog post will provide an update on project CORD (Central Office Re-architected as a Data Center) from the perspective of the Open Network Foundation (ONF) with panelists from AT&T and Verizon.
AT&T is not the only U.S. carrier attempting to provide broadband fixed wireless access to rural areas. CenturyLink has requested an experimental license from the Federal Communications Commission for a test to reach isolated rural areas via a fixed wireless service over the 3.4 GHz to 3.7 GHz spectrum band.
The trial is aimed to evaluate the use of wireless spectrum to provide broadband services to those rural areas where it’s difficult to make wire-line infrastructure/facilities available.
“The testing seeks to understand the viability of new technologies in this band,” CenturyLink wrote in an FCC filing.
“CenturyLink seeks confidential treatment for the Exhibit on the basis that it contains confidential commercial information, technical data and trade secrets concerning CenturyLink services under development and related testing processes, all of which CenturyLink customarily guards from public disclosure,” CenturyLink said.
Besides the 3.4-3.7 GHz bands, CenturyLink is looking at how it might work with other network service providers rolling out future 5G wireless networks.
Glen Post, CEO of CenturyLink, told investors during the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference in September that it would be open to such partnerships to accelerate the speed at which it is rolling out service to rural areas under the CAF-II program.
“On the wireless side, we want to partner with 5G providers and other wireless providers where we can bring higher speeds to customers at less costs,” Post said. “If some of the proposed wireless build-outs occur in the CAF-II areas we cover, we think it will be a lower-cost opportunity to reach those customers and cover higher speeds for a lot more customers with that type of technology.”
CenturyLink joins several other rural-centric providers like Frontier, Consolidated and Windstream are seeing similar potential. As we’ve previously noted, AT&T’s rural wireless broadband recently added 9 more states.
Frontier confirmed it was conducting tests of how it can use fixed wireless to address the broadband availability problem in very rural areas via the FCC’s CAF-II funds.
Frontier joined Consolidated and Windstream in a joint FCC filing (PDF) related to a request to create flexible use of spectrum bands between 3.7 and 24 GHz.
Consolidated and Windstream also expressed interest in being able to use 3.7-4.2 GHz band spectrum for rural fixed point-to-multipoint deployments, such as through the rules proposed by the Broadband Access Coalition.
The service providers said that these spectrum bands would “provide another key tool in the toolbox to reach the hardest to serve rural Americans.”