JSI Files For Waiver for 6 Clients Confused About First HUBB Filing Requirement

2019-06-12T17:03:55-04:00June 12, 2019|Filings|

On Tuesday, June 11, 2019, JSI filed for a waiver on behalf of six RLECs that did not know they needed to file in USAC’s High Cost Universal Broadband (HUBB) portal by March 1, 2018, even though they did not have location information to report. The companies argue that prior to the first HUBB filing in March 2018, the requirement to certify that there were no locations to report was not explicitly clear, even after the Wireline Competition Bureau released a Public Notice providing further guidance on HUBB reporting the day the filing was due. Each of the impacted RLECs saw their high-cost universal service support slashed for failure to meet a deadline they didn’t know applied to them. They are asking that the March 1, 2018, deadline be waived and their high-cost USF be restored.

JSI Meets with FCC Regarding Broadband Buildout Reporting

2017-09-26T14:16:31-04:00September 26, 2017|Filings|

On Wednesday, September 20, 2017, JSI’s John Kuykendall and Cassandra Heyne met with several staff members of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau. The discussions primarily focused on the reporting requirements for rate-of-return carriers receiving CAF-BLS support that do not have defined buildout obligations. These carriers must report on their annual Form 481 filing “progress on the number of locations where 10/1 Mbps or better broadband service have been deployed within their study area during the prior calendar year.”

During the discussions, the JSI representatives provided recommendations as to how the Bureau can obtain this information in the least burdensome manner. The participants also discussed issues related to the implementation of HUBB reporting for rate-of-return carriers with build-out obligations.

JSI Participates in Ex Parte Regarding CAF Broadband Options

2016-12-05T15:23:37-05:00December 5, 2016|Filings|

On November 21, 2016, JSI took part in an ex parte with NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association and several other prominent industry leaders to discuss possible ways RLECs could get relief from existing universal service fund (USF) contribution obligations in connection with broadband transmission services.

The group discussed the two main ways RLECs would not be subject to USF contributions in connection with providing broadband (like other providers) — a “private carriage option” in which the RLEC chooses to detariff broadband services or a “retail approach” where the RLEC provides a finished retail broadband Internet access service (BIAS) directly to an end user. They also briefly described a third potential scenario that they believe should be considered in which a retail BIAS provider would provide a resale certificate to the RLEC indicating that no contributions should be assessed in connection with RLEC wholesale broadband transmission because it is only one input component of the retail Internet access service provided to end users by the BIAS provider who, but for previously granted temporary forbearance from the FCC, would be responsible for such contributions. Focusing, however, on the first two options described in the prior Commission and Bureau items cited above – the “private carriage option” and the “retail approach” – the Rural Representatives discussed why each presented substantial questions and concerns that would, for the time being, result in most RLECs remaining as the only entities today contributing to USF based upon the provision of broadband

JSI Files Ex Parte on A-CAM Oversubscription Solutions

2017-05-19T10:09:36-04:00November 15, 2016|Filings|

On Monday, November 14, 2016, JSI filed an ex parte with the FCC on behalf of its rate-of-return clients that opted into the Alternative Connect America Fund (A-CAM). The ex parte was in response to the FCC’s announcement that the A-CAM was oversubscribed by $160 million annually and that it was considering ways to handle the excess demand for A-CAM funds.

JSI and the A-CAM electors advocated for the Commission to allocate enough additional funding from its surplus to cover the $160+ million annual overage, “as this is the only equitable way to respond to the 216 companies that voluntarily elected the A-CAM with the intention of deploying broadband to their unserved areas.” The FCC could then delay making modifications until after buildout and location data have been collected.

Adding additional funds would be preferable to the other proposals the FCC is reportedly considering to cover the shortfall – either reducing the per-location cap and/or reducing the 90% deployment threshold. JSI’s ex parte argued that these proposed solutions would cause further upheaval for these small companies that just spent months agonizing over the decision to elect A-CAM. “Reducing their A-CAM support has the very likely outcome of making both legacy and A-CAM support insufficient for deploying 10/1 Mbps or greater broadband to unserved locations,” the filing explained.

In the event the FCC does not fully fund the A-CAM obligations, companies should be given the opportunity to return to legacy rate of return support without penalty. Nor should any companies that opted for legacy support be penalized if A-CAM electors opt to return to legacy support.

JSI Meets with FCC Wireline Bureau on A-CAM Buildout Obligations

2016-07-29T16:38:55-04:00June 21, 2016|Filings|

On June 20, 2016, Manny Staurulakis, Steve Meltzer, Douglas Meredith and John Kuykendall of JSI met via teleconference with staff of the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau to discuss flexibility in meeting buildout obligations and certain implementation issues related to the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM). The group also discussed questions regarding contribution treatment of non-tariffed services in the recently released Clarification Order.

JSI Files Comments on Behalf of Clients Regarding Split Census Blocks in A-CAM

2017-05-19T10:09:41-04:00April 28, 2016|Filings|

JSI, along with a group of 27 clients, filed comments with the FCC regarding the issue of census blocks that are located in multiple study areas. Because ILEC study areas do not align with census blocks, census blocks that are partially served with broadband at 10/1 Mbps or higher by another, subsidized, incumbent local exchange carrier are being removed from Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM) eligibility. The split block rule has eliminated hundreds, if not thousands, of census blocks nationwide from A-CAM eligibility in study areas where locations in these blocks would be eligible otherwise.


JSI, NTCA & WTA Meet with FCC About Lifeline Reform Proposals

2017-05-19T10:09:43-04:00January 14, 2016|Filings|

In early January 2016, JSI’s Tanea Foglia, along with representatives of NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association and WTA met with the legal advisors to FCC Commissioners Pai and Rosenworcel, the associate bureau Chief of the Wireline Competition Bureau, and several staff members from the FCC’s Telecommunications Access Policy Division to discuss the Commission’s various Lifeline reform proposals.

During each of these ex parte meetings on January 7, January 8 and January 11, 2016, they discussed the Wireless ETCs’ pending Petition for Reconsideration of the Lifeline Second Report and Order, as well as the new snapshot rule. JSI and the associations explained to the FCC staffers that the snapshot rule, which requires ETCs to report their number of Lifeline subscribers as of the first of each month for purposes of Lifeline reimbursements, will result in a number of situations where RLEC ETCs provide Lifeline benefits to eligible low-income consumers without receiving reimbursement for such service. They recommended the Commission allow RLEC ETCs to take a snapshot of their number of subscribers as of their carrier-specific billing dates.

They also discussed their carriers’ desire for a more efficient Lifeline eligibility verification process, possibly one that leverages existing state eligibility databases. In regards to ETC designations, the group urged the FCC to refrain from streamlining the ETC designation process because it could fail to fully consider support recipients’ qualifications, experience or commitment to universal service.

These ex partes were in addition to several filings JSI did in conjunction with NTCA and WTA in late 2015. In September 2015, JSI and NTCA submitted reply comments to the FCC regarding its proposed changes to the Lifeline program. As well, JSI filed joint comments with NTCA and WTA in support of the Wireless ETC Petitioners Petition for Reconsideration regarding the FCC’s Lifeline Reform Order. In October, the group filed joint reply comments in regards to those who opposed the Petition for Reconsideration.

JSI Takes Client Concerns About A-CAM to FCC in Recent Ex Partes

2017-05-19T10:09:44-04:00October 28, 2015|Filings|

JSI, along with representatives from several industry groups and client companies, recently shared its concerns with the FCC about the Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM) and how the Commission is using data submitted via Form 477 to determine what census blocks could receive USF in the future.

During the October 27, 2015, ex parte with the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, JSI, NTCA, Bennet & Bennet, Panhandle Telephone Cooperative and Madison Telephone Company discussed a number of concerns with the way the A-CAM identifies the purported presence of unsubsidized competition in rate of return service areas. The group specifically pointed out instances in which the A-CAM incorrectly classifies an RLEC’s or an RLEC affiliate’s voice and/or broadband services as services that are being provided by an unsubsidized competitor, even if these services are in fact used and provided in furtherance of the RLEC’s eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC) obligations.

In its September 17 ex parte, JSI staff presented scenarios to the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau in which rural rate of return carriers would lose universal service support under the A-CAM if one of its affiliates provided broadband via cable modem or fixed wireless. Even a few ILECs could be eliminated for using fixed wireless to serve some of its customers if the rules remain as written. JSI staff also discussed the ability to challenge a third party’s claims that they serve the census block.

JSI Files Joint Comments with NTCA & WTA on Lifeline Reform Oppositions to Petition of Reconsideration

2015-10-21T17:02:47-04:00October 21, 2015|Filings|

On October 19, 2015, JSI filed joint reply comments with NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association and WTA – Advocates for Rural Broadband in reply to those who opposed CTIA—The Wireless Association’s Petition for Reconsideration regarding the FCC’s Lifeline Reform Order.

JSI and the rural associations agree with CTIA’s petition that the document retention rules recently adopted in the FCC’s Lifeline proceeding exceed the Commission’s authority under Sections 222 and 201(b) of the Communications Act and that the FCC should reconsider these document retention rules.

JSI Files Joint Comments with NTCA on Lifeline Reform FNPRM

2017-05-19T10:09:45-04:00September 30, 2015|Filings|

On September 30, 2015, JSI and NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association submitted reply comments to the FCC regarding its proposed changes to the Lifeline program as outlined in its Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking.

In these reply comments, JSI and NTCA urged the FCC to:

  • Remove providers from the Lifeline subscriber eligibility verification process, as taking this responsibility out of the hands of providers will no doubt improve the efficiency and integrity of the program, for the benefit of consumers and ratepayers alike;
  • Carefully coordinate the modernization of the Lifeline and the High-Cost programs, specifically with respect to giving consumers the choice of voice or broadband service, together or on a standalone basis;
  • Adopt uniform Lifeline forms and hold faithful in all respects to the carefully designed statutory provisions and rules regarding the Eligible Telecommunications Carrier (ETC) designation process;
  • Adopt uniform Lifeline enrollment and recertification templates; and
  • Postpone using the National Lifeline Accountability Database (NLAD) for Lifeline disbursements until certain veracity and transparency issues are resolved.
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