The FCC’s Rural Broadband Task Force has written to 197 winning bidders in last year’s Rural Digital Opportunity Phase I auction asking them to review census blocks covered by their bids that have been the focus of concerns that they "are already served by one or more service providers that offer 25/3 [megabits per second] broadband service or otherwise raise significant concerns about wasteful spending, such as parking lots and international airports," with an eye toward withdrawing, or defaulting, on those bids now.
"We recommend that you assess whether existing service in these areas will affect your ability to meet all program requirements and deployment milestones. If you determine that you will no longer pursue support for any of your winning bids, promptly send an email to [email protected] identifying the specific census block groups with a brief explanation of your decision to default on your bid. Defaults will be announced by public notice," the task force said.
It said it "anticipate[s] looking favorably on requests" for waiver of the normal penalties for defaults, provided the requests "include a showing that defaulting on these bids will serve the public interest by, for example, targeting scarce Universal Service funds to where they are needed most."
It asked for responses by Aug. 16.
Separately, the Wireline Competition Bureau partially denied petitions submitted by AB Indiana LLC and LTD Broadband LLC that seek waiver of the June 7 deadline for RDOF long-form applications to demonstrate that they have obtained ETC (eligible telecommunications carrier) designation in each of the geographic areas for which it seeks to be authorized for RDOF Phase I support.
"Consistent with the Commission’s direction in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Order, we find that these entities failed to engage in good faith efforts to pursue and obtain the required ETC designation from the states for which we deny their petitions," the bureau said in an order adopted today in AU docket 20-34 and WC docket 19-126.
Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, "This program can do great things, but it requires thoughtful oversight. That’s why we are refocusing the program on unserved areas and putting winning bidders on notice of their obligation to ensure that support goes to the areas that need it. And for those applicants who are dragging their feet or can’t meet their obligations, follow the rules or we will disqualify you and move on." —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]
MainStory: FederalNews FCC BroadbandDeployment
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