Initiates Competitor Challenge Process

Directives of the FCC’s March 30 Rate-of-Return USF Reform Order are already rolling out, with the release of a Public Notice and the “almost” final version of the Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM) on April 7 (See our April 6e-Lert for more on the Order). Version 2.2 of the A-CAM incorporates the 9.75% rate of return and updates broadband deployment and competitive overlap based on the June 2015 FCC Form 477 data that had been submitted by February 19, 2016. Carriers that provide at least 10/1 Mbps broadband using fiber or cable technology to 90% of the locations in a state are excluded from model support.

Version 2.2 is not quite the final version—there is still a challenge process to complete. The final version and offer of model-based support to rate-of-return carriers will be made after the completion of the challenge process and the effective date of the Order, which is 30 days after the Order has been published in the Federal Register. Version 2.2 of the A-CAM also includes illustrative results, which we encourage clients to review expeditiously.

The 21-day rapid-paced challenge process is geared towards unsubsidized competitive providers who have made corrections to their June 2015 Form 477 data since February 19, 2016, or that have newly deployed broadband that would not have been reported with the June 2015 data. Even though the purpose of this challenge process is mainly for competitive carriers to chime in with new information, rate-of-return carriers that are certain that a competitive carrier is overstating its coverage should participate in the challenge process. The FCC warns that basic arguments that a competitor’s service range is overstated are unlikely to be accepted. Proving that a competitor cannot offer service toany locations in a census block is a difficult task, but given the importance of ensuring accurate data in the A-CAM, it is a task that should be considered by some. The deadline for submitting challenges is April 28, 2016.

JSI has successfully navigated clients through previous challenge processes and has developed guidelines and recommendations for challenging a competitor. We also can produce maps showing a competitor’s coverage and file comments or schedule ex parte meetings with the FCC if necessary.

For questions about the A-CAM Version 2.2 and to review the illustrative results for your company, please contact Steve Meltzer or Brian Sullivan in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590 or your company’s JSI consultant. For questions about the challenge process, contact John Kuykendall or Cassandra Heyne at 301-459-7590.

Source: JSI e-Lert