As originally posted on Blandin on Broadband eNews…’
In any other time, I would be starting this column with a breezy Happy New Year and offering platitudes for sunny skies ahead. Instead, uncertainty tending towards gloom fills the air in my office and over Zoom.
My hope for clear broadband skies has been crushed by the unexpected results of the FCC’s RDOF auction. Like many, I expected that many, locally-oriented ISPs would win the majority of eligible areas adjacent to their existing fiber-served areas, thus guaranteeing a timely and smooth deployment of affordable and reliable service for a generation. Non-RDOF eligible areas would be reached through provider investment supplemented by the state’s Border to Border grant program and local public dollars. We would achieve the Minnesota Broadband Vision – rural areas having the broadband infrastructure necessary to attract people and investment. Communities could then focus on broadband utilization for economic competitiveness and quality of life.
Instead of this expected certainty, we must all now wait for clarity to emerge from the next steps of the FCC process. Unfortunately, there are many questions, but few answers:
- Will the FCC approve the engineering and financial plans of winning bidders?
- What technology will be deployed to achieve the promised Gigabit service?
- What is the build-out timeline?
- What about adjacent underserved areas?
- How will incumbent providers respond?
- How will state and federal funders adapt their broadband programs?
- Has the community role changed?
What are your thoughts on the implications of RDOF? Maybe we can shred some clouds and see some sunshine. No presentations, just shared conversation. All are welcome!
Blandin Broadband Lunch Bunch
January 13 ~ Noon to 1:00pm
Register Here (for 2nd Wednesdays on infrastructure)