FCC Coordinates, Streamlines CAF-II Reporting and Deployment Deadlines

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The FCC has adopted an Order that aligns program deadlines related to deployment and reporting obligations for Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) auction support recipients.   The CAF-II auction made available to voice and broadband service providers up to $1.98 billion over 10 years, provided certain unserved high-cost markets received service with certain performance requirements.  To date, the FCC has authorized nearly $1.2 billion in CAF Phase II funding, which will expand connectivity to 409,661 homes and businesses nationwide.  However, each individual funding authorization has been made on a rolling basis, starting in May 2019 and continuing throughout the year.  Under the FCC’s rules, certain deadlines applicable to CAF-II recipients are based on the start or end of the funding year while others were based on the anniversary date of when they received FCC authorization.  This has created not only a patchwork of reporting dates and deadline dates for all of the CAF-II auction winners, but differing timeframes in which companies had to complete similar performance benchmarks.  Accordingly, the Commission has waived Sections 54.310(c), 54.316(b)(4), and 54.316(c)(2) of its rules and established the following service milestones for all CAF-II auction support recipients:  (1) December 31, 2022 Service Milestone Deadline for 40% of locations in a State; (2) December 31, 2023 Service Milestone Deadline for 60% of locations in a State; (3) December 31, 2024 Service Milestone Deadline for 80% of locations in a State; and (4) December 31, 2025 Service Milestone Deadline for 100% of locations in a State.  Additionally, all CAF-II recipients must file certifications required under Section 54.316(b)(4) of the Commission’s rules by March 1 of each calendar year.  Furthermore, CAF-II recipients (whether through Auction 903 or the NY Broadband Program) must submit their first annual location report by March 1, 2021, and then on every March 1st thereafter.  Finally, the Commission clarifies that all of these actions supersede any of the agency’s previously authorized deadlines.

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