FCC seeks $8M+ in fines from 22 more RDOF applicants for bid defaults

May 5, 2023
FCC proposes more than $8 million in fines against 22 Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) applicants for defaulting on the program's Auction 904 obligations.
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The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on May 1 proposed $8,778,527.39 in fines against 22 applicants in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I Auction (Auction 904) for apparently violating Commission requirements by defaulting on their bids between May 3, 2022 and December 16, 2022.

According to a press release by the agency, two applicants also failed to submit their audited financial paperwork, resulting in an additional monetary liability.

FCC Enforcement Bureau Chief, Loyaan A. Egal, said:

“This enforcement action represents the second group of bidders we have pursued for failing to live up to their obligations. We will be steadfast in making sure that those who impede the timely deployment of broadband-related infrastructure are held to account.”

In 2021, the FCC issued its initial list of RDOF winners in default of their obligations.

The FCC in its new statement noted the agency "provided clear guidance in its rules and notices on the monetary forfeitures associated with defaults in Auction 904. The bid defaults prevented 2,994 census block groups in 31 states and an estimated 293,128 locations from receiving new investments in broadband infrastructure."

The proposed enforcement action, formally called a Notice of Apparent Liability for Forfeiture, or NAL, advises parties that they are apparently in violation the Commission’s rules, and proposes a monetary penalty for violations. The Commission may not impose a greater monetary penalty in this case than the amount proposed in the NAL.

FCC noted that neither the allegations, nor the proposed sanctions in the NAL, are final Commission actions. According to the agency, "The parties named will be given an opportunity to respond and the Commission will consider each party’s submission of evidence and legal arguments before acting further to resolve the matter."

FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said:

“When the Commission set up this program, it set clear rules of the road to ensure that winning bidders would fulfill their promise to use this funding to build new broadband infrastructure. Not following the rules has consequences. For those who failed to meet their obligations, today’s action shows the Commission takes seriously its commitment to hold applicants accountable and ensure the integrity of our universal service funding.”

At its April 2023 Open Commission Meeting, as shown below, the FCC considered items on: Receiver Standards, Int’l Sec. 214 Authorizations, NGSO FSS, Wireless Emergency Alerts, and Access Arbitrage. The meeting was open to the public on April 20 at FCC headquarters and on the internet via live feed from the FCC’s web page.

About the Author

Matt Vincent | Senior Editor

Matt Vincent is senior editor of Broadband Technology Report. A B2B technology journalist, editor and content producer with over 17 years of experience, he specializes in the full range of media content production and management, as well as SEO and social media engagement best practices.

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