On behalf of its fixed and mobile carrier members, the Alaska Telecom Association (ATA) has filed a Petition for Expedited Rulemaking asking the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) to update and extend the Alaska Plan program for high-cost support. Specifically, ATA proposes the FCC:
- Extend the term of the Alaska Plan to start January 1, 2024 through December 31, 2034. To avoid uncertainty going forward, the Alaska Plan should thereafter be extended automatically at one-year intervals unless the Commission takes action otherwise.
- Increase support amounts to account for inflation since original support amounts were set and provide annual inflation adjustments.
- Afford Alaska Communications and Alaska’s ACAM participants the opportunity to elect to participate in the Alaska Plan.
- Establish a process for providers to work with the Bureaus to update individual performance commitments through 2034, with a midway benchmark at the end of 2028.
ATA also states that “[e]xtending and updating the Alaska Plan program would provide for the enhanced Alaska Plan and the BEAD [Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment] and ReConnect programs to be administered in a complementary manner.” This proposal is different from the Alaska Middle Mile Expense Support (“AMMES”) Petition filed by the Alaska Remote Carrier Coalition on November 29, 2022.