CAF Challenge Process Moves Forward; RBE Postponed

On Friday, September 26, the FCC released two Public Notices-one about CAF Phase II challenges, and another about the rural broadband experiments.

CAF Phase II Challenges Accepted as Valid; Response Deadline is Nov. 10

The FCC has sorted through the CAF Phase II challenges filed in August and determined which ones met the criteria to be valid challenges, and therefore are eligible for a response. Entities filed two categories of challenges: (1) that a census block which was originally designated as unserved and eligible for support is actually served and should not be eligible for support, and (2) that a census block which was originally designated as served is actually unserved and should be eligible for support. JSI clients filed challenges in the first category, and price cap carriers filed challenges in the second category in an attempt to increase the blocks for which they will receive CAF Phase II support.

All challenges filed by JSI clients were deemed valid by the FCC, but the price cap carriers still have an opportunity to argue that these challenged census blocks should be eligible for support. Unsubsidized competitors can respond to the price cap carrier challenge lists and argue that these blocks should not be eligible for support.

Many JSI clients received notices in August that the price cap carriers were filing challenges that blocks listed on the National Broadband Map as served by an RLEC were in fact unserved. JSI believes that many of the blocks subject to challenge in this category are split between a rate-of-return carrier and a price cap carrier, but nevertheless it is very important that all JSI clients check this list and verify that no census blocks that are 100% within their service areas are included. Companies have until November 10 to respond to any challenges.

Please contact Cassandra Heyne in the Maryland office at 301-459-7590, Lans Chase in the Georgia Office at 770-569-2105 for assistance with reviewing the challenge lists, or to file a response if necessary.

Rural Broadband Experiments Postponed

The FCC is postponing the deadline for applications for the rural broadband experiments, which were due on October 14. The Commission has not yet announced a new deadline. The FCC needs an additional “four to six weeks” to test the electronic submission system, which will be a modified version of the wireless auction system.

In the meantime, the FCC released materials to help guide potential applicants, including screenshots of the electronic Form 5610, the bid form and descriptive data that applicants must complete, a sample project information submission, a guide to working with the census block list, and a guide to completing the bid form. These resources can be found in the FCC Encyclopedia in the Rural Broadband Experiments section of the FCC’s website. The FCC is holding a webinar on October 9 at 2 p.m. EDT, which JSI will attend.

If you are currently in the process of developing your broadband experiment application or are interested in pursuing the funding, please contact Cassandra Heyne in the Maryland office at 301-459-7590, Lans Chase in the Georgia Office at 770-569-2105 to review the FCC’s latest resources on the experiments.