FCC has money for rural broadband but isn’t sure where to spend it

“We are careening towards a disaster with waste, fraud and abuse here,” Rosenworcel said. “We’re giving out billions and billions of dollars a week before the election when we know our data is wrong.”

Carr and O’Rielly disputed Rosenworcel’s assessment. They said the maps set to be used in the Oct. 29 auction, which will sell off $16 billion of the $20.4 billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, are accurate. Carr said different maps, which will be used to auction off the remaining $4.4 billion later on, are flawed.

Pai said that delaying the October auction to correct maps that will not be used until a subsequent auction would be a disservice to Americans without internet access.

“Essentially, what that’s saying is unless we know every part of the country, we shouldn’t move ahead with broadband in places like Marietta, Georgia, unless we know that the suburbs in Murrysville, Pennsylvania, or McLean, Virgina, are partially served,” Pai said. “To me, people who we know are on the wrong side of the digital divide have waited long enough.”

Rosenworcel, pressed for a yes-or-no answer by Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, conceded that delaying the initial auction because of the flawed second-phase maps would not be in the public interest. But she maintained that fixing the maps should be a higher priority at the FCC.

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