Samantha Albano

Rural broadband initiative update: RDOF, 5G, and OTARD

Closing the urban-rural digital divide has been a top priority for the U.S., and numerous initiatives have already been put into place to make America's digital divide a thing of the past. During this past month, the FCC and Trump administration announced new plans to help bring broadband access to millions of underserved homes. Here's a recap of the latest happenings in America's rural broadband initiative.


Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) announced by the FCC

On April 12th, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai visited the White House to announce the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) that is expected to contribute over $20 billion to the expansion of broadband networks into rural areas. To accomplish this, the FCC will be repurposing the Universal Services Fund, which already exists to build out next-generation networks in rural America, says Pai:

“These next-generation networks will bring greater economic opportunity to America’s heartland, including some great job building infrastructure and they will help support future 5G technologies.”

With this new fund, the FCC is targeting to deliver broadband access to 4 million rural homes throughout the next decade. 

Side note: Chairman Pai will be speaking next month at WiFi NOW in Washington DC, where Minim Cofounder/CSO David Aronoff will also be speaking (check back for more details!) 

Next 5G auction (Auction 103) to begin on December 10, 2019

Additionally while at the White House on April 12th, Pai announced the Commision's plan to help push 5G deployment in the U.S., which highlighted the FCC's intention to start the 3rd 5G spectrum auction on December 10th: 

"This will be the largest spectrum auction in American history. We will be selling 3400 megahertz in three different bands."

Such an auction will help further the advancement of 5G networks in the U.S., which are expected to be 100 times faster than their 4G counterpart

You can listen to Pai and President Trump discuss these two new initiatives (RDOF and 5G spectrum auction) below:

Over-the-air-reception-device (OTARD) rulemaking proceeding

Also this month, the FCC made a proposal that aims to update the existing over-the-air-reception-device (OTARD) ruling. 

To give some perspective, OTARD was put in place to protect the rights of a property owner or tenant to install an antenna for certain broadband and broadcast services. In an effort to support their 5G deployment initiatives, the FCC proposed to eliminate the OTARD restriction that disallowed broadband hubs from being installed on private property. For more on why this rulemaking proceeding is important for the expansion of today's wireless networks, check out the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association's (WISPA) remarks.

At Minim, we believe every home should have access to both broadband internet access and safe, quality WiFi. We will continue to provide updates as more progress is made.

New to Wireless ISP space? You might be interested in our blog on starting a WISP 101.

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