FCC Denies Rural Bidding Credit Waiver Petition

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The FCC has denied a petition from Atlantic Tele-Network, Inc. (ATN) and its wholly-owned subsidiary SAL Spectrum, LLC (SAL) seeking a rule waiver that would allow SAL to claim eligibility for a 15% rural service provider bidding credit in its application to participate in the forward auction portion of the broadcast Incentive Auction.

To be eligible for a rural service provider bidding credit, an applicant must be a service provider with fewer than 250,000 combined wireless, wireline, broadband, and cable subscribers including the applicant’s controlling interests, affiliates, and the affiliates of its controlling interests.  The petition indicated that ATN’s subsidiaries serve just under 62,000 wireline, wireless, broadband, and cable subscribers in the United States, though through its foreign subsidiaries ATN serves over 250,000 wireline, wireless, broadband, and cable subscribers and has a worldwide subscriber base of approximately 500,000.  The petitioners sought a waiver of Section 1.2110(f)(4) of the FCC’s rules to the extent it requires foreign subscriber numbers to be considered in determining rural service provider bidding credit eligibility, a question that the petitioners claimed was ambiguous.

Commission staff concluded that Section 1.2110(f)(4) of the Commission’s rules requires that SAL
attribute to itself all the subscribers of its foreign affiliates. Staff found that the rule is clear that an applicant must attribute all subscribers of the applicant, its affiliates, its controlling interests and the affiliates of its controlling interests; and that there are no exclusions from attribution depending upon where such subscribers are located.

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