McEachin Leads Letter Urging FCC to Reconsider Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Order
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman A. Donald McEachin (VA-04) today led 22 of his colleagues from the Committee on Energy and Commerce in sending a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai requesting that the FCC reconsider the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Order in light of the last-minute language added to the adopted Order and released last week. The letter raises concerns that there was no substantive analysis of how the added provision excluding certain communities from RDOF funding would work, potentially leaving further behind areas currently unserved by reliable, high-speed internet service.
“We write with concerns about provisions of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Report and Order that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted January 30, 2020 and released last week Friday, February 7, 2020,” wrote Congressman McEachin and his colleagues in the letter. “Specifically, we are concerned that the RDOF Order may inadvertently undermine the ability of states to help close the digital divide due to the rushed process undertaken by the FCC’s adoption of the Order.”
Drafted after the members learned of the changes, the letter urges the FCC to review the proposal in partnership with states and Congress to deliver the most effective and efficient rural broadband investment possible.
Congressman McEachin and his colleagues are also concerned that the potential changes would preclude RDOF funding from unserved areas erroneously considered served by the federal government based on inaccurate mapping data.
“After the circulation of the draft RDOF Order on January 9, 2020, language was added that excludes census blocks awarded funding through ‘similar state subsidy programs,’” the letter continued. “[T]he RDOF Order contains no substantive analysis of how this provision would affect states’ broadband deployment and investments, and leads to many questions about how the language will be applied to the various funding arrangements that have developed at the state level. It may also lead to disruptions and delays in deployment if states decide to wait to spend their money before they see where RDOF funds are ultimately awarded.”