The American Consumer Institute (ACI) has submitted reply comments to the FCC, addressing the call for amnesty from several organizations for the winners of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) and Connect America Fund II (CAF II) auctions. The initial request suggested a period of amnesty for awardees who cannot fulfill their network buildout commitments, potentially allowing them to also apply for a share of the substantial Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding. ACI’s comments stress the importance of maintaining the integrity of the FCC’s processes and argue against rewarding those who have failed to meet their obligations.

Key Takeaways

  • Commitment to Accountability: ACI argues that offering amnesty to RDOF and CAF II awardees who have defaulted could set a harmful precedent, undermining the accountability of the FCC’s auction processes and potentially rewarding poor performance.
  • Protection of Taxpayer Interests: The institute contends that providers with a history of defaults should not be eligible for additional government funds such as the BEAD program, emphasizing the need to allocate resources to trustworthy providers who can deliver on their commitments.
  • Opposition to Overbuilding: ACI supports carefully considering grant eligibility to prevent wasteful overbuilding and ensure that government funds are used effectively to close the digital divide.

The American Consumer Institute believes that the FCC should reject the request for amnesty from RDOF and CAF II awardees who have not honored their commitments. Granting amnesty could inadvertently incentivize undesirable practices and erode public trust in the commission’s procedures. ACI calls on the FCC to adhere to its established processes and reserve BEAD funding for reliable providers. The public and stakeholders in broadband policy are urged to join ACI in advocating for principled and responsible stewardship of taxpayer-funded broadband initiatives.

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The American Consumer Institute is a nonprofit education and research organization. For more information about the Institute, visit www.TheAmericanConsumer.Org or follow us on X @ConsumerPal.