What you need to know about RDOF
Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF)

The RDOF is the latest iteration of the FCC’s universal service fund (USF) program, providing $20.4B to ensure that telecommunications services for rural areas are comparable to those enjoyed in urban and suburban areas.

RDOF Timeline

RDOF Timeline. October 29 Auction 904 Begins. November 24 Bidding Ends. TBD Long-Form Application Due.

Update (12/7/20): Long Form deadline announced

RDOF Build Out Requirements

Should you bid and win on an eligible Census Block Group, you’d receive 10 years of support funds, distributed monthly. Payments will be received once a long-form application is submitted and approved.

In exchange, an awarded provider agrees to offer commercially at least one voice and one broadband service, meeting relevant service requirements. These services must be made available to the locations within the awarded census blocks groups, with buildout requirements totaled at the state level, per the following timeline:

RDOF Buildout Requirements Chart Years 3-6, Percentage of required locations

Per the FCC Auction 904 website
“If there are fewer locations than originally estimated by the cost model, support recipients must serve the revised number of locations by end of year six. If there are more locations than originally estimated by the cost model, support recipients must serve the cost model-estimated number of locations by the end of year six and must serve the remainder of locations by the end of year eight.

Finding Lat/Lon Coordinates

Note that while the number of locations and the reserve price are provided, the actual lat/lon coordinates and addresses of RDOF eligible locations are not provided by the FCC. In order to meet the FCC reporting requirements, all awarded providers will eventually need lat//lon coordinates, and addresses to report the progress and completion of the locations served in an awarded area. If you need help finding locations, check out our BroadbandFabric Location Data.

Additional Info:

Broadband DATA Act

Signed into law in March 2020, this Act mandates the FCC to create a Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric to be the basis of Broadband Maps going forward. Much of the language was influenced by the Broadband Mapping Initiative, which CQA was the lead consultant for. You can read the full report here: Broadband Mapping Initiative Summary of Findings.

Digital Opportunity Data Collection (DODC)

The likely evolution for Form 477, the DODC is an effort to continue to refine the public’s understanding of broadband service coverage in the U.S. The main difference from Form 477 is the shift from coverage reporting at the census block-level to coverage reporting at the sub-census block level with the use of coverage polygons. More below.

Form 683: RDOF Long-Form Application

Update: we’ve built guides for filing your long form application

Winning bidders or their designees must:

  • Provide in their long-form applications additional information about qualifications, funding, and the network that they intend to use to meet their obligations
  • Detail the intended network plan, including a network design complete with a signature from a Professional Engineer (PE)
  • Within a specified number of days, submit a letter from an eligible bank committing to issue a letter of credit; upon notification that the entity is ready to be authorized, must obtain a letter of credit from an eligible bank that remains open and covers disbursements until compliance with certain service milestones is complete and verified
  • Within 180 days of being announced as winning bidders, certify they are eligible telecommunications carriers in any areas for which they seek support and submit relevant documentation.

Once a long form application is approved, the long-form applicant will be authorized to begin receiving support. 

RDOF Reporting Requirements

Unless something changes, RDOF awardees will follow the same path that CAF II awardees do: annually report the geocoded locations (lat/lon + address or textual reference) “where you have newly deployed facilities capable of delivering broadband that meets or exceeds the defined speed tiers in the previous year”, per the USAC Website.

That likely means that RDOF awardees will need to file locations in the HUBB Portal (High Cost Universal Broadband) per the same deadlines (see image below).

HUBB Filing Deadlines

HUBB Filing Deadlines Chart - March 1, July 1, October 1
Dates are subject to change, as directed by the Universal Service Administrative Co. or the FCC.

Form 477 Reporting Requirements

Any RDOF reporting requirements are in addition to existing Form 477 Requirements, which as of this writing, have not been substantially changed. Should you need a refresher, more detail can be found on the FCC website.

DODC Reporting Requirements

Adopted in August 2019, the DODC was the first step towards more granular broadband maps and the improvement of Form 477. The gist is that providers would file coverage polygons as a means of indicating where they provide service (or could provision without extraordinary effort) within a Census Block.

Though adopted in August 2019, no Public Notice has been released by the Commission’s OEA (Office of Economics and Analytics) indicating the formal requirements and deadlines. It’s our understanding that USAC (previously charged with administering this) has put the corresponding RFP on hold indefinitely. The Commission will likely take it from here. Read the original order.

UPDATE (July 2020), per the Second Report and Order, the Commission adopted:

  • Requirements for providers of fixed and mobile broadband service to report broadband coverage and availability
    • The data will be collected semi-annually, with filing deadlines of March 1 to reflect data as of December 31 of the previous calendar year, and September 1 to reflect data as of June 30 of the then-current calendar year.  OEA will issue a Public Notice announcing the initial filing deadline at least 6 months prior to that deadline.
  • The collection of crowdsourced data, the use of audits, and other measures to help verify the accuracy of the data
  • The Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (Fabric), a dataset of all locations where fixed broadband service can be installed
  • Standards for incorporating verified data from governmental entities and certain third parties into the FCC’s broadband coverage maps

More detail will be provided as additional clarity is provided.

Lat/lon coordinates and addresses for broadband serviceable locations to accelerate network design and HUBB filings. Data in all 50 states. *CostQuest Associates does not provide advisory or support for the FCC’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction. CostQuest will not discuss auction plans, auction strategy, bidding or bidding strategy.

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