Alaska Wireless Network Receives Waiver of 700 MHz Geographic-based Construction Rules

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The Mobility Division (Division) of the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireless Telecommunications Bureau (Bureau) has granted a waiver request of The Alaska Wireless Network, LLC (AWN) (a subsidiary of GCI Communication Corp.) of the 700 MHz construction rules to meet population benchmarks rather than geographic-based benchmarks for its Lower 700 MHz A Block license for the State of Alaska. The Division found a waiver warranted because of the unique challenges of serving remote areas in the State of Alaska. Under the 700 MHz rules, licensees must meet an interim construction deadline and provide coverage and offer service over at least 35 percent of their license area by December 13, 2016, and a final construction deadline providing coverage and service to 70 percent of the area by the end of the license term, June 13, 2019. If a licensee fails to satisfy the interim construction requirement, its license term is reduced by two years. If a licensee does not meet its final construction requirement, it loses the area it does not serve. AWN filed a waiver request proposing to provide service to 50 percent of Alaska’s population by its interim construction deadline and 80 percent of Alaska’s population by its final construction deadline, and committed to maintain 80 percent coverage for five years. The Division found that grant of the waiver would serve the public interest because the purpose of the construction rules, to promote access to spectrum and services, especially in rural areas, would be frustrated by its application. The Division granted the waiver, subject to AWN’s proposed performance conditions plus the condition requiring AWN to maintain coverage and service to 80 percent of the population for a minimum of five years, commencing June 13, 2019 until at least June 13, 2024. 

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