PUC Notes Pennsylvania Success in Federal Broadband Auction
Published on 12/9/2020
Filed under: Telecommunications
$368+ million in FCC funding will help bring high speed internet
to underserved communities across the state
HARRISBURG – The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) today recognized Pennsylvania’s recent success in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) auction for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RUDOF).
A total of 13 bidders in Pennsylvania will receive $368.7 million over the next 10 years to bring high speed internet service to homes and businesses to 184,505 locations that are underserved, or do not have access to broadband that meets current federal standards.
The FCC indicates that over 99% of the successful bids are for
100 Megabit-per-second download speeds – four times faster
than the “Netflix speed” benchmark of 25 Megabits-per-second
currently used by the FCC to define access to broadband service.
According to the FCC, the Pennsylvania projects will reach an estimated 327,000 residents in Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Bradford, Bucks, Butler, Cambria, Cameron, Carbon, Centre, Chester, Clarion, Clearfield, Clinton, Columbia, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Delaware, Elk, Erie, Fayette, Forest, Franklin, Fulton, Greene, Huntingdon, Indiana, Jefferson, Juniata, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Lycoming, McKean, Mercer, Mifflin, Monroe, Montgomery, Montour, Northumberland, Perry, Philadelphia, Pike, Potter, Schuylkill, Snyder, Somerset, Sullivan, Susquehanna, Tioga, Union, Venango, Warren, Washington, Wayne, Westmoreland, Wyoming and York counties.
Strong Pennsylvania Support
“This is a success for everyone in Pennsylvania who has worked to educate stakeholders about the FCC auction process,” noted PUC Chairman Gladys Brown Dutrieuille. “This hard work will help residents and businesses in underserved regions get access to more high-speed broadband services.”
The PUC notes that successful funding for these projects is the result of work by stakeholders who supported and encouraged outreach on this subject, including the Governor’s Office and legislators from across Pennsylvania, along with Penn State University’s Rural Extension Program, who developed a detailed and publicly-available map that showed all the eligible areas and the support that could be provided to interested bidders.
The PUC noted that only a handful of states are receiving more broadband support than Pennsylvania, with bidders and projects across the Commonwealth more successful than those in 43 other states. The federal program is intended to expand broadband service to over 10 million rural Americans. The Phase I RUDOF Auction results which were just announced by the FCC allocates $9.2 billion to telecommunications companies in 49 States and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands.
The PUC has long advocated for a strong Pennsylvania voice and presence in the federal auction process – urging concerned residents, businesses and other stakeholders to press the FCC to ensure that the federal funding process gives initial priority to unserved communities.
The PUC noted that RUDOF is a federally operated program and the funding is not awarded to or on behalf of the Commonwealth. Funding was awarded to private companies who have the responsibility to meet the federal requirements of the program – outside the jurisdiction of the PUC. The PUC cannot direct or adjudicate how companies will fulfill their obligations under this federal program.
As this process moves forward, the PUC will work with successful bidders to secure designation as Eligible Telecommunications Carriers (ETCs), which is required under federal law to receive the FCC funding. More detailed information regarding the FCC RUDOF Phase 1 Auction is available on the FCC website.
The Commission will also continue to emphasize the obligation of carriers to provide Lifeline support for eligible consumers.
About the PUC
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission balances the needs of consumers and utilities; ensures safe and reliable utility service at reasonable rates; protects the public interest; educates consumers to make independent and informed utility choices; furthers economic development; and fosters new technologies and competitive markets in an environmentally sound manner.
Visit the PUC’s website at www.puc.pa.gov for recent news releases and video of select proceedings. You can also follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube. Search for the “Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission” or “PA PUC” on your favorite social media channel for updates on utility issues and other helpful consumer information.
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