Washington, D.C. – Congressman Frank Lucas (OK-03) released the following statement after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to establish the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund- a two-phase program committing up to $20.4 billion to expand high-speed broadband to underserved and rural areas of the United States:
“Connecting communities to broadband is no longer about convenience, it’s about providing opportunities for rural Americans to participate in an ever-changing economy and society. Access to broadband means increasing the customer base of small businesses on Main Street. It means enabling people to access physicians across geographic limitations through telemedicine. It allows more of America’s farmers to use precision agriculture, resulting in more efficient, economical and environmentally friendly operations. And it means shifting the educational landscape in rural areas by giving students access to high speed broadband in their home, allowing access to educational resources outside of the classroom. In short, bridging the digital divide between rural and urban areas will provide a pathway to a better future for people who call these areas home.
It’s apparent the FCC remains committed to those who call rural America home. I applaud the leadership of Chairman Ajit Pai and his fellow Commissioners for prioritizing the investment of rural broadband and for continuing the Commission’s priority of bringing affordable high-speed broadband to all Americans- no matter their area code.”
Today, the FCC established the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, committing up to $20.4 billion over the next 10 years to support high-speed broadband networks in rural and underserved areas of the United States. Through a two-phase regulatory framework, the FCC will focus on areas currently served by “price cap” carriers, along with areas that were not served through the CAF Phase II auction and or do not currently receive any high-cost universal service support.
The objective of the Fund will be to raise the standard for broadband development from the CAF’s 10 Mbps/1 Mbps minimum to at least 25 Mbps/3 Mbps, with incentives for faster speeds.
Phase One will target wholly unserved census blocks, using existing FCC data. At least $16 billion will be made available for Phase One.
Phase Two will make available at least $4.4 billion and will target unserved locations in partially unserved census blocks, using new, more granular data being developed through the Digital Opportunity Data Collection, along with areas not served in Phase One.
Based off preliminary data, 162,000 locations in Oklahoma could be eligible for Phase One funding.