Clients Encouraged to Check Applicant Areas
Before the USDA’s Rural Utilities Services (RUS) distributes $600 million in funding for its Rural eConnectivity Pilot Program (Reconnect), it must validate that the areas where applicants are seeking funds truly do not have access to 10/1 Mbps broadband service. RUS released Public Notice Filings (PNFs) to start the application validation process on the first set of ReConnect applicants, which are the 100% grant applicants. JSI expects more PNFs for the loan/grant applicants and 100% loan applicants. A list of the general locations of the applications is available here.
If you provide service in any of these locations, JSI recommends you check the map of ReConnect applicants to determine if there is an applicant seeking funding in an area that is already served with 10/1 Mbps or greater broadband. If you discover that there is an applicant seeking funding in an area that you serve with 10/1 Mbps or greater, you can the challenge the application.
If a challenge is warranted, you’ll need to submit several items to RUS via the PNF portal on the ReConnect site.. First, challengers will need to have a shapefile of the area where they are claiming to already provide 10/1 Mbps or greater service. Second, the challenger must submit information about its services, including the number of subscribers, services and packages offered, and prices per month. Finally, challengers will have an opportunity to upload supporting documentation to make their challenges more persuasive. A Level 1 or Level 2 eAuthentication login from RUS is required to submit a challenge. Challenges for this set of PNFs are due by July 28, 2019. Future PNFs will have different due dates.
JSI is available to assist with obtaining authorization and preparing and filing the challenges. ReConnect applicants will have an opportunity to respond to the challenges and, in some cases, RUS representatives may conduct a field study of the area.
For questions about the ReConnect challenge process, please contact Cassandra Heyne in the Maryland office at 301-459-7590 or Lans Chase in the Georgia office at 770-569-2105.