WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), a member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, as well as co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, today applauded the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) decision to reject Frontier Communications Corporation’s multiple challenges filed with the FCC seeking to exclude thousands of census blocks from eligibility in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). The FCC decision follows a letter Senator Capito sent to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urging the FCC to thoroughly examine the census blocks that have been challenged in West Virginia—specifically referencing Frontier’s challenges.
In April, Frontier filed a challenge to the FCC seeking to exclude close to 16,000 census blocks from eligibility in RDOF Phase I and has since then filed numerous filings changing their initial service locations. Had the challenge been approved, nearly 800 areas in West Virginia would have been impacted. According to the FCC, West Virginia has more than 121,000 initial eligible locations for the RDOF. These locations lack broadband at speeds of 25/3Mbps. Because RDOF provides critical funding over the next decade, it’s imperative that as many census blocks in West Virginia are eligible for this funding as possible.
“I am proud that West Virginia has seen dramatic increases in federal grant funding being awarded to local providers that are working with community leaders to extend broadband access to thousands of residents. As we continue to build on these successes, it is imperative that future federal funding opportunities are deployed strategically and to partners that will work with local communities to provide them with levels of service that are requisite to compete in the modern economy. That’s why I pressed the FCC to reject the challenges presented by Frontier. Rejection of these challenges means more areas will be eligible to receive broadband funding through the largest opportunity we have available, and that is the RDOF. This is great news for West Virginia as it will allow as many communities as possible the chance to better-connect these areas as we continue efforts to bridge the digital divide,” Senator Capito said.
A copy of the letter can be found here and below.
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) is one of the most ambitious steps the FCC has taken towards bridging the digital divide, which will provide $20.4 billion over the next 10 years for high speed fixed broadband service to rural homes and small businesses. The largest portion of these funds—$16 billion—will be made available for Phase 1 of RDOF. According to the FCC, West Virginia has over 121,000 initially eligible locations for Phase 1 funding that are completely unserved with voice and 25/3Mbps or higher broadband. If accepted, Frontier’s challenges would have made a portion of these areas ineligible for Phase 1 funding.
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