A-CAM Challenges Due April 28; JSI to Submit Comments about Split Census Blocks

Contact JSI before Wednesday, April 27 

The rapid-fire A-CAM challenge process will conclude on Thursday, April 28. Before time runs out, JSI wishes to clarify some of the confusing aspects of the challenge process to ensure that clients that should be filing challenges are, and clients that should not be filing challenges are not. Companies considering the A-CAM that find that they share a census block with a neighboring ILEC definitely should contact JSI about participating in joint comments before Thursday (more information on this situation is below).

The current A-CAM challenge process and the forthcoming Legacy USF challenge process are entirely different, with drastically different criteria and procedures. The A-CAM challenge process is underway, while the Legacy USF challenge will occur sometime later. Further, under the A-CAM challenge, the burden of proof falls on the RLEC, whereas under the Legacy USF challenge, the burden of proof will fall on the competitor. Accordingly, we recommend that clients that are not considering A-CAM support wait until the Legacy USF challenge commences, since your company will have a better likelihood of success.

A-CAM Challenge
If you are considering the A-CAM and have evidence that a competing carrier is not providing broadband at 10/1 Mbps in certain census blocks, then your company should file a challenge before Thursday’s deadline. Examples of such evidence include:

  • an affidavit from the competitor verifying that it does not serve certain census blocks and it has revised its FCC Form 477;
  • “on the ground” evidence that the competitor does not serve certain census blocks, such as lack of tower locations for fixed wireless or poles/pedestals for cable modem;
  • screen shots of “no service available” results from the competitor’s online service availability look-up tool; or
  • wireless signal strength tests showing no feasible capability of 10/1 Mbps.

Keep in mind that because Form 477 data is being used, the challenge must show that the competitor is not able to serve even a single customer in a census block within a reasonable period of time. An affidavit from the competitor and assurance that the competitor will revise its 477 would be the most compelling evidence; anything else runs a risk of being denied by the FCC.

Shared Census Blocks
We are also seeing that, in some cases, neighboring rate-of-return carriers are “knocking out” census blocks from A-CAM support. The census blocks are partially in one company’s study area and partially in the neighboring rate-of-return carrier’s study area. According to the FCC, it will not consider “partial block” challenges, and the census block is the most granular level it can code in the model. This situation is cause for concern, primarily because neighboring ILECs are not unsubsidized competitors. This situation ignores the study area boundary and discounts the needs of consumers who may have no ability to get broadband on one side of a census block, even though a neighboring ILEC, in a different study area, may provide broadband on the other side of the census block.

JSI plans to file comments on this matter next week. Any client that would like its name included in the comments must contact JSI no later than Wednesday, April 27.

Also, if you would like assistance in mapping overlapping coverage or in preparing and filing a challenge, or if you have any questions about the challenge process, please contact Cassandra Heyne or John Kuykendall in the Maryland office at 301-459-7590 as soon as possible.

Source: JSI e-Lert