On March 30, 2016, the FCC released an order regarding Reform of the FCC’s high cost support funding for rate-of-return (ROR) carriers. See the Regulatory Mix dated 4/4/16. One of the FCC’s goals is to provide increased funding for deployment of 10/1 Mbps or greater broadband services in areas served by ROR carriers.
In its’ prior CAF II proceeding, the Commission relied on National Broadband Map data obtained through voluntary State Broadband Initiatives to determine what census blocks were unserved. The FCC’s revised A-CAM cost model will now use Form 477 data as of June 2015 to make that determination for ROR carrier support. The Commission will also include in the model any new blocks in Form 477 December 2015 data identified by providers where new service is offered to residential users with 10/1 Mbps bandwidth or greater.
- For competitive providers – under-reporting blocks served or maximum advertised speeds can result in support being given to a ROR carrier in the same service area.
- For ROR ILECs – over reporting of blocks served or maximum advertised speeds can result in support being lost or a lower support amount offered under both model based and legacy support mechanisms.
What makes this especially important for competitors is the FCC’s new streamlined challenge process. For ROR support, the Commission will assume that all Form 477 data is accurate at least in terms of blocks served. There will be no opportunity for competitors to challenge a list of eligible blocks like in the CAF Phase II process for price capped carriers. No “do overs” or second chances.
Instead, the Wireline Competition Bureau will publish a Public Notice with a preliminary list of competitors serving specific census blocks according to FCC Form 477 data. Those competitors will then need to certify that they are offering service to at least 85% of the locations in the census block and must provide evidence sufficient to show the specific geographic area in which they are offering service. This process is more in line with the process used to implement the 100% overlap rule for ROR carriers.
Providers have until April 28, 2016, to make any corrections to their June 2015 and December 2015 Form 477 data and to notify the Commission of the corrections or block additions that meet the 10/1 Mbps service criteria.
See the FCC’s Public Notice here.
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