On Friday, April 10, Charter petitioned the FCC for a rules waiver that would ban Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) funding in 2,100 census blocks in NYS. As background, Phase 1 of the RDOF Program will award up to $16 billion from the Universal Service Fund (USF) to support the deployment of broadband service in rural areas over 10 years. The census blocks that are eligible for RDOF in Northern NY are shown in blue:
Charter is petitioning for a rules waiver that would ban RDOF funding in approximately 2,100 census blocks in NYS “in which Charter, in order to satisfy binding state obligations, is in the process of deploying service.” If Charter is successful in getting the 2,100 census blocks banned from participating in RDOF, many of the areas in blue above would become ineligible, potentially leaving thousands of New Yorkers without access to high-speed broadband.
Many of these areas are not commercially viable without outside funding and the elimination of eligibility for this program will likely leave those New Yorkers underserved for years to come.
Per the RDOF guidelines, a provider awarded a grant to cover a census block would be required to provide broadband to all households in the census block. Charter would NOT be subject to the same requirement in any census blocks eliminated from the RDOF Program. AdkAction recommends that, if the FCC grants Charter’s request, that Charter be required to meet the RDOF service milestones and be subject to the non-compliance penalties, as if Charter were an RDOF awardee, for any census blocks that are excluded from RDOF funding pursuant to Charter’s petition, including a requirement to provide broadband service to all households in the eliminated census blocks.
AdkAction submitted public comment in opposition to Charter’s petition to the FCC on Tuesday, April 21 with the attached letter: