July 7 Deadline to “Claim” Blocks, Submit Comments

In preparation for the upcoming Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II auction, the FCC released a Public Notice and related updated list of census blocks in areas where price cap carriers elected Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II support. The list also contains blocks which were originally included in the offer of support to price cap carriers but were not “claimed” by the carrier.

In the Public Notice, the FCC informs rate-of-return carriers that even though some of these “unclaimed” blocks could belong in their areas, they could be included in the upcoming CAF Phase II auction unless “claimed” by the July 7 filing deadline. Accordingly, we encourage all clients to review the list of blocks to see if any are in your service area and, if so, file comments with the FCC as specified in the Public Notice by July 7.

In the Public Notice, the FCC also is seeking feedback on three categories of census blocks. The list of census blocks is an updated version of June 2016 Form 477 data. Comments on the census block categories are due July 7, 2017:

  1. A list of census blocks submitted by USTelecom that were originally included in the CAF Phase II offer to price cap carriers, but no price cap carrier ultimately “claimed” them. It is possible that some of these blocks are in rate-of-return areas, making it imperative that RLECs with a neighboring price cap exchange check this list. The FCC believes around 2,000 of these blocks are in, or partially in, rate-of-return study areas;
  2. A list of extremely high-cost blocks in states where price cap carriers accepted CAF support, which price cap carriers can elect to serve in order to meet their statewide buildout obligations;
  3. Census blocks that rate-of-return carriers identify to be included in the CAF Phase II auction because the carrier does not anticipate being able to extend broadband under the reasonable request standard. Both A-CAM and legacy rate-of-return carriers are invited to submit blocks for consideration in the reverse auction.

JSI can provide state-level or county-level lists of the census blocks to clients. We also can create maps showing where the “unclaimed” USTelecom-identified blocks are in relation to study area boundaries and identifying blocks if you are interested in relinquishing certain areas for the reverse auction.

If you have any questions or wish to begin preparing comments to file, please contact John Kuykendall or Cassandra Heyne in the Maryland office at 301-459-7590.