Electric Co-ops Support FCC Broadband Auction Rules

ARLINGTON, Va. – National Rural Electric Cooperative Association CEO Jim Matheson applauded today’s vote by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to approve rules for the Rural Development Opportunity Fund (RDOF) reverse auction for broadband projects.  

“America’s electric co-ops are optimistic that the auction rules will lead to meaningful expansion of broadband access in rural America,” Matheson said. “We appreciate the commissioners’ willingness to apply lessons learned from previous auctions and implement changes that will promote higher speeds by winning RDOF bidders. The need to bridge the digital divide has never been more urgent. 

“More than 100 electric cooperatives have stepped up to deploy broadband and connect their communities to the modern economy. But for many co-ops, broadband projects are simply not feasible without grant funds. We look forward to partnering with the FCC on projects that will boost the quality of life and economic outlook for hundreds of rural communities.”

Cooperatives welcome this important change from the last FCC broadband reverse auction because it will enhance FCC’s selection of projects with the highest speed and lowest latency, and therefore result in a far higher number of locations being served with future-proof technology.

Cooperatives have demonstrated their commitment to bringing high-quality broadband service to rural areas. More than a hundred co-ops are engaged in broadband projects. CAF II, the last FCC reverse broadband auction, was the first time electric co-ops were eligible for FCC rural broadband funding. Thirty-two electric co-ops won 35 bids in that 2018 auction.

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association is the national trade association representing more than 900 local electric cooperatives. From growing suburbs to remote farming communities, electric co-ops serve as engines of economic development for 42 million Americans across 56 percent of the nation’s landscape. As local businesses built by the consumers they serve, electric cooperatives have meaningful ties to rural America and invest $12 billion annually in their communities.