As Senate Commerce Chair, Wicker Led Efforts to Reform FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction

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U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today celebrated the award of $495,725,799.60 from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to expand high-speed broadband internet access in Mississippi. The funding, which is being made available to Internet Service Providers in Mississippi through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction, is the highest amount awarded to any state except California.

“This first round of funds from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund will make an incredible difference in the state of Mississippi as we work toward connecting every person to reliable high-speed internet,” Wicker said. “There is much more work left to do, but this strong showing for our state’s internet providers is good news. I will continue working to improve internet access for all Mississippians and ensure the next phases of aid are awarded where they are most needed.”

The funding will support broadband infrastructure construction over a 10-year period. Providers have to meet periodic buildout requirements that will require them to reach all assigned locations by the end of the sixth year. They are incentivized to build out to all locations as quickly as possible.

Wicker introduced legislation earlier this year to provide additional incentives for providers to complete their RDOF buildouts earlier. This followed public and private efforts by Wicker to urge the FCC to expedite their award of broadband support to help Americans get online during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America and focus limited universal service funds on unserved areas that most need support.  In October 2020, the Commission adopted rules creating the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion over the next decade to bring 5G wireless broadband connectivity to unserved areas in rural America.

More information on the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction is available at https://www.fcc.gov/auction/904, including complete auction results and a map of winning bids.

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Release from Senator Roger Wicker.