All of the carriers JSI assisted were successful in their challenges of the price cap carriers’ assertions that their census blocks were unserved by fixed broadband under in the second round of Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase I. Each JSI client proved to the FCC that they are able to provide customers in those census blocks with broadband service at or above 3 Mbps/768 kbps, thus denying the price cap carriers the CAF support for those blocks.
JSI and its clients successfully maneuvered through this complicated challenge process in spite of the FCC’s vague definitions of evidence and 11th-hour clarifications and the price cap carriers’ ruthless attempts to discredit the challengers. For example, the price cap carriers tried to reject certifications signed by the challengers under penalty of perjury because they did not submit proof that the signer was an officer of the company. Price cap carriers also alleged that billing records and evidence of number porting were required even after the FCC staff confirmed that these were not required. In cases where billing records were submitted, the price cap carriers argued against considering them as evidence because the records were redacted pursuant to the FCC’s CPNI requirements.
JSI is pleased with the success of these first round of challenges and we are encouraged that the FCC is finally recognizing the work independent telephone companies have been doing in rural communities to provide their customers with the best services available. Given everything we learned in the CAF Phase I process, JSI is even better prepared to assist with challenges sure to come in the CAF Phase II process, which is expected to have a significantly greater number of census blocks and involve a much higher number of broadband providers. Although the FCC has said the Phase II challenge process will be less flexible and more intricate, JSI is poised to guide clients through the process and build on the success of the Phase I challenges.