The FCC’s upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) will be based on a reverse auction format. RDOF, or Auction 904 Phase 1 as the FCC refers to it, will auction $16.4 billion in support over 10 years to providers who agree to improve broadband service to at least 25/3 Mbps in thousands of census block groups throughout the country.
If you’re planning your RDOF strategy, you’ve got a handful of considerations:
Visualize RDOF auction bidders
CNS has mapped many of the FCC short form applicants and presumed bidders to help you in visualizing the serving areas of the bidders.
Since some of the bidders include price cap carriers like Verizon, Centurylink, Windstream, Frontier, Consolidated Communications, etc. who serve large geographic areas, these providers are not included in the map since it’s assumed that they will bid at lower speeds or higher latency than many of the small providers who are likely to build FTTH or Fiber to the Home networks in the RDOF auction. They also cover such large areas that identifying the likely eligible RDOF census block targets will be a challenge. Lastly, since the Price Cap carriers already serve the RDOF block groups, they are likely to be bidders in their own areas. Reminder, these Price Cap Carriers have been receiving Connect America Fund (CAF) dollars to upgrade these areas to 10/1 Mb.
Further, we omitted the larges mobile wireless and fixed wireless providers who can serve entire states or many states, since determining their bidding strategy is next to impossible. Further, they are likely to bid at lower speeds than Gigabit.
Satellite providers like Hughesnet and Viasat typically cover most of the U.S. so they are not included but assumed to be bidding at high latency.
LEO, or Low Earth Orbit Satellite providers who are very new, are still a wild card, and as such are not included. It will be interesting to see how these bidders end up in the auction.
Lastly, some applicants either chose to hide their identity by using a new FRN which was registered by a third-party or chose to create a consortium to bid in. Since the identity of these providers is hidden, it’s not clear as to their targeting bidding areas.
Of the 505 short form applicants, 166 were not readily matched to their reported 477 data. 27 of these were matched using additional sources. This leaves approximately 139 short form applicants as either being Price Cap, large cable operator, a part of a bidding consortium, a new market entrant, existing carriers using a new FRN, and or new or different holding company name, Satellite provider, large Cellular, etc.
Some providers who do not appear on the map are providers who only recently have begun offering services and the 477 data does not reflect their recent build-outs.
This map is made from a dissolved data set meaning that all reported serving areas have been dissolved and flattened into one layer on the map. In some cases, there may be multiple providers who serve an area. This map does not feature individual data for provider areas and has also been tiled to improve performance, and thus clicking a map location does not identify the reported carrier.
Below is a list of the mapped providers with a link to the FRN registration data: