FCC Denies Waiver Requests of Eligibility Limitations and Deadlines of the Alternative Connect America Cost Model

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The Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) has denied a request for waiver of the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) eligibility limitations for support, and two requests for waiver of the use of 2015 FCC Form 477 data used to determine support. In its March 2016 Rate-of-Return Reform Order, the FCC excluded from support census blocks where an incumbent or affiliated entity provides 10/1 Mbps or better broadband using either fiber to the premises (FTTP) or cable technologies to 90 percent or more of its eligible locations. To implement A-CAM and determine support, the FCC directed the Bureau to use the June 2015 FCC Form 477 data submitted prior to the release of the Rate-of-Return Reform Order so that carriers could not change their data to evade the restrictions. In this Order, the  Bureau denied the request of affiliated entities, Shawnee Telephone Company and Moultrie Independent Telephone Company’s (Moultrie), to waive the eligibility limitations because Moultrie currently provides at least 10/1 Mbps broadband service using FTTP to more than 90 percent of its customer locations which affects both entities. The Bureau found no justification for the waiver stating that the limitation is to target support to areas in greater need of broadband deployment. The Bureau also denied Baraga Telephone Company’s (Baraga) and Clarity Telecom LLC dba Vast Broadband’s (Clarity) requests to use 2016 FCC Form 477 data instead of the June 2015 FCC Form 477 data because both assert they made mistakes in those filings. The Bureau rejected this argument concluding that while there is value in using accurate data, the deadline exists for a reason. Here, the deadline imposes administrative closure on the data set for incumbent study areas at a specific moment in time for the efficient implementation of the overall reform effort. Moreover, the FCC has clearly stated that carriers may not resubmit their previously filed data to reduce their reported FTTP or cable coverage.

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