Fund could help thousands of Virginians get broadband access
WASHINGTON (CBS19 NEWS) -- About six million rural homes and businesses could benefit from the first phase of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai announced on Tuesday the initial estimates of how many locations in each state could get help from the $20.4 billion fund, including more than 200,000 in Virginia.
He says about six million homes and businesses across the country could be eligible for bidding in an auction that will take place later this year to get funding for high-speed broadband.
"The digital divide affects many people in many rural communities. I've said that the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund would be out boldest step yet to bridge this divide, and today we get a glimpse of the broad impact this investment in rural America would have across the country," said Pai. "Our staff's initial estimate shows that in 25 states, there would be more than 100,000 locations that would be eligible for Phase I of the fund, and the benefits would be felt from the Pacific Ocean to the Great Plains, and from Appalachia to the Gulf Coast."
In Virginia, there are 217,000 locations that may be eligible. California has the most locations at 421,000 while Connecticut has the fewest at 4,000.
Phase I funding will target a total of $16 billion to census blocks that currently have no broadband service at all that meet the FCC's minimum speed standards, which means there is no 25/3 megabytes per second service.
The rest of the money will be disbursed during Phase II, when the FCC will use granular broadband mapping to target unserved households in areas where some homes do have access to broadband while others do not. This phase will also include some places that do not get funding in Phase I.
The funding will be allocated through a reserve-auction format.
The FCC is expected to vote on Jan. 30 to launch the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.