CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Federal Communications Commission has been accepting applications for the first phase of an auction to provide wireless internet services to rural communities across the country.
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction consists of two phases worth $20.4 billion, which will be given to providers over a decade. The agency will award up to $16 billion in the first phase, in which bidding will begin Oct. 29.
According to the FCC, more than 128,000 areas in West Virginia are eligible for rural development.
House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, called the auction a “big deal.”
“The reason it is a big deal is that providers have to step up and illustrate a capacity to guarantee their bids well in advance of the actual auction itself,” he said.
Hanshaw said economic development money has been used in communities nationwide to provide a backstop to internet service providers. He added installing wireless connectivity services is a more cost-effective solution than laying cable.
“Our population density is so sparse that the professionals believe that it’s going to be wireless solutions that are going to get us to the last mile,” he added.
Short-form applications are due by July 15.