FCC’s Use of Form 477 Data Could Have Significant Impact on RLECs

JSI to Hold Webinar November 18

In recent weeks, it has become apparent that the FCC intends to use Form 477 broadband deployment data in ways that could dramatically impact rate of return carriers (RLECs). In October, the FCC released an Enforcement Advisory reminding voice and broadband providers of their continued duty to submit Form 477 on time, and with accurate data, or face enforcement action, including monetary penalties. The Advisory emphasized that the FCC uses Form 477 data to “appropriately target” universal service funds, as well as for other public policy goals.

Additionally, in conjunction with other industry leaders, JSI had several ex parte discussions with FCC staff in September and October regarding how Form 477 data is used in the Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM). In the current version of the A-CAM, locations within census blocks where Form 477 data shows the existence of cable modem or fixed wireless technologies do not receive support due to “competitive” overlap. Our ex parte discussions focused on situations where these technologies are deployed by an RLEC either in its own network or by an affiliate and thus should not be considered “competitive.” Because the FCC could use the A-CAM’s determination of competitive overlap as a proxy for other USF reform purposes, the outcome of these discussions could have a much broader impact.

During the October meetings, the FCC informed us that it considers all cable modem and/or fixed wireless technologies within an RLEC’s area reported by any Form 477 filer to be “competitive.” However, the staff recognized that the FCC’s competitive overlap policy eliminates support only in areas where there is an unsubsidized competitor that provides both voice and broadband and admitted two more steps must be added as a “fix.” The first step is a determination as to whether the service meets the condition of being “unsubsidized.” We discussed examples of ways that RLECs use alternative technologies to fulfill their obligations as eligible telecommunications carriers and that these services should be considered subsidized. Even if the service is found to be unsubsidized, a second step would take place to determine whether voice is provided somewhere in the state.

JSI Webinar
Given these developments, JSI will be holding a webinar on Wednesday, November 18 at 2:00 p.m. Eastern in which we will discuss in more detail how reporting cable modem and fixed wireless services offered by RLECs in their ILEC areas could impact their universal service support. The webinar also will review the Form 477 reporting requirements with a focus on broadband deployment and options for reporting ILEC and non-ILEC voice and broadband. Additionally, through use of JSI’s new mapping tool, the webinar will illustrate how RLECs can use data filed by competitors to determine overlap and prepare for the anticipated challenge process.

Registration is $249 for the first five webinar connections for the same company (each additional connection is $50). This is the third session in JSI’s 2015 Video Webinar Series, and clients who subscribe to JSI’s Video Compliance Service will receive a $70 discount. You can sign up for the webinar using JSI’s online registration form.

For more information about the webinar, Form 477 reporting or ex parte discussions, contact Cassandra Heyne, Marty Kluh, or John Kuykendall in JSI’s Maryland office at 301-459-7590.

Source: JSI e-Lert