FCC Seeks Comment on Waiver Requests to Amend Long-Standing Definition of “Study Area”

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The FCC has released a public notice seeking comment on the joint petition of Grand River Mutual Telephone Corp. and South Central Communications, Inc., both of Iowa, for waiver of the definition of “study area.”  The two carriers are affiliates, and jointly serve the existing service area.  However, the petitioners now wish to divide the service area into two separate Iowa study areas representing their respective exchanges.  Study area boundaries have been frozen since 1984 as a way to prevent ILECs from “creating” new study areas solely as a means of maximizing high-cost support.  In its landmark USF/ICC Transformation Order, the Commission streamlined its rules governing study area waiver requests. Previously, the procedures for addressing petitions for study area waiver required the Commission to issue an order either granting or denying the request after issuing a public notice. Today, the rules are such that upon determination that a petitioner has filed a complete petition and that the petition is appropriate for streamlined treatment, the Commission will issue a public notice seeking comment on the petition, and the petition will be deemed granted 60 days after the reply comment due date absent further action by the Commission. Comments are due on or before March 26th, 2018 and reply comments are due on or before April 10th, 2018.

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