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Upton announces FCC auction expanding broadband to 16,280 southwest Michigan rural homes and businesses

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Fred Upton, R-St. Joseph, today announced that access to high-speed broadband is expanding to 16,280 rural homes and businesses in southwest Michigan through the Federal Communications Commission’s Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction. The auction allocated nearly $13 million to help close the digital divide in Upton’s Congressional district.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has further expanded the digital divide in Michigan and across the country, exposing a larger rift between those who have access to broadband and those who don’t,” Upton said. “Today’s announcement marks an important day in our efforts to deliver broadband to every American. As folks continue to work, take classes, and utilize telehealth services from home, we need to continue to work together to expand high-speed internet to rural communities across southwest Michigan.”

“This historic auction is great news for the residents of so many rural Michigan communities, who will get access to high-quality broadband service in areas that for too long have been on the wrong side of the digital divide,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “We structured this innovative and groundbreaking auction to prioritize bids for high-speed, low-latency services to deliver the best results for rural Americans, and the results show that this strategy worked. This auction was the Commission’s single largest step ever taken toward delivering digital opportunity to every American and is another key success in our ongoing commitment to universal service.”

In total, the auction allocated $362,985,055.60 in support to expand broadband to 249,263 unserved Michigan homes and businesses over the next 10 years. Nearly all locations in Michigan that were eligible for the auction will be receiving access to broadband with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps, with an overwhelming majority (80%) getting gigabit-speed broadband. A broad range of providers successfully competed in the Phase I auction, including cable operators, electric cooperatives, incumbent telephone companies, satellite companies, and fixed wireless providers. 

The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction is part of a broader effort by the FCC to close the digital divide in rural America. In October 2020, the Commission adopted rules creating the 5G Fund for Rural America, which will distribute up to $9 billion over the next decade to bring 5G wireless broadband connectivity to rural America.

More information on the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction is available at https://www.fcc.gov/auction/904, including complete auction results and a map of winning bids.

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