FCC Grants Telco Vendor Flexibility to Rural Health Providers

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The FCC has released an order waiving rural health care providers (HCPs) participating in Rural Health Care (RHC) Telecommunications and Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF) Programs, and who have entered into service contracts with Network Services Solutions, LLC (NSS), from obligations under sections 54.603, 54.615 and 54.642 of the Commission’s rules requiring that replacement service providers must be selected through a competitive bidding process.  HCP participants in the RHC and HCF Programs generally provide health care in rural and remote areas where doctors and specialists are often unavailable, and companies like NSS provide the connections to deliver life-saving telemedicine.  HCPs, who receive discounted bids subsidized through universal service funding, are typically obligated to solicit bids through USAC.  Over the years, NSS, acting as a reseller of numerous facilities-based services providers, has provided communications services to HCPs in various RHC and HCF Programs.  NSS recently filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection, and because the court granted its requests, NSS must now liquidate its assets and terminate all of its service contracts.  Only rural HCP participants using NSS for Fiscal Year 2017 or multi-year contracts are eligible to retain new service providers without engaging in a bidding process.

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