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.