A Starting Point for CAF Post-ROFR Auction | Federal Communications Commission payment
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December ten, 2015 – 4: 15 pm
A funny thing is happening along the way to enacting a reverse public sale for a key portion of the high-cost Connect America Fund (CAF). Instead of installing a program based on competitive factors and free market principles, many people want the Commission staff to select winners and losers with an unacceptable bias against certain technologies. This kind of manipulation would be the surest way to create greater inefficiency, overpay for program and leave many consumers unserved. Further, this would set bad preceding and undermine future Commission common service efforts. Accordingly, I suggest that people reject this approach, focus on the sound, broad principles that everyone should support, and then turn to implementing the details.
For those who don’t follow the ins and outs of the Commission’s attempt to modernize its common service fund, here is a quick synopsis of this key portion:
The Commission’s Connect America Fund (as in opposition to Lifeline, E-Rate or rural healthcare) has separate programs for price cap carriers and rate associated with return carriers.
Earlier this year, incumbent price cap carriers had the right-of-first-refusal (ROFR) to elect – on a condition by state basis – to take CAF support to provide broadband within their territories.
For those areas not selected with the incumbents, and potentially some extra high-cost areas, the Commission is set to hold a reverse auction by which broadband providers would be selected to offer service in these areas. In a reverse auction, providers would bid down on how much Commission CAF support they would receive to serve an area with broadband.
The Commission has talked about making available $175 million per year (or $1. 75 billion over ten years) for the CAF Post-ROFR Invert Auction.
Maximize Coverage : General direction must be to serve as a lot of unserved consumers as possible with assistance that meets specified baseline efficiency requirements.
Today, millions of Americans, especially in non-urban areas, lack sufficient broadband, because they struggle with slow speeds or no assistance at all. Since there is a limited pot of funding and many areas that need support, the Commission needs to stretch scarce CAF dollars as far as possible. Put simply, we should buy fewer Lamborghinis and more Chevys. After all, the statute guides us to promote universal service.
No Categories : Must start with a level playing field. Eliminate artificial categories, which could discount providers capable of providing the requisite service, and therefore are based on unsupported assumptions.
In its “Rural High speed Experiments” and in other efforts, the Commission has shown a fondness of setting up categories or tiers through which funding would be sliced up in an arbitrary, predetermined manner. But in a true market-based reverse auction, the auction process decides which type of providers prevail rather than some set share. The most fulsome auction is one in which every interested provider that can meet the baseline requirements competes at once. The auction structure, rather than staff, may account for the different technologies and cost points.
Open to All Technologies : Fiber should not be the particular default, nor should unlicensed, satellite or other qualified providers be sidelined.
While some may see this as exactly like the previous point, it can be quite various. Specifically, the Commission could bestow preferences for service offerings that offer higher speeds or greater capability, without respect to technology (e. g., bidding credits, bonus obligations, point systems). Fiber is a wonderful technology but there is no way the Commission rate can afford it for all of the locations in the CAF Post-ROFR Auction. Moreover, if satellite or unlicensed wireless offerings are able to do the job, they should not have to get arbitrarily excluded. And by the way, consumers seem to love wireless technologies when given the choice.
Multi-round Auction : Establish a real auction – not sealed bids or subjective staff review. Multi-round structure enables competition, where it exists, to achieve higher cost-efficiencies.
It is hard to fathom that there is also discussion of allowing staff to select fund recipients in a sealed bid-like process, like how a city might select a garbage company, and calling it an auction. Think about this: the particular Commission is preparing to hold extremely complex, simultaneous reverse and forward auctions to sell broadcast licenses to wireless providers, but somehow here it’s too difficult to do a standalone reverse auction for a small subset of the country. Really?
Simply no Overbuilding : Funding should not flow to areas that already have broadband (i. e., 10/1 services for price cap areas).
Given the reasonable constraints on funding, the particular Commission should exclude areas that are already being served by broadband. While updating already served areas could be beneficial, it puts in danger bringing service to more unserved Americans. Why should some places obtain CAF-funded network upgrades before all Americans have some broadband availability?
Late last night we officially launched the new FCC. gov. The new site features a more responsive design, a new site navigation structure, plus an improved search capability.
Information Structures and Navigation
The site has relocated from a flat design with minimum linking between pages to a hierarchical design that utilizes cross-linking, menus, plus greater clarity of where you are on the site map. The new site navigation comes with a “toggle” capability that allows visitors to search by “Category” or “Bureau plus Office. ” Extensive user study revealed visitors to FCC. gov try some fine clear separation of consumer content and practitioner content. Using a toggle navigation allows us to meet the navigation choices of different site visitors.
The newest site features a new search application. The new search brings together results from both FCC. gov and the Electronic Document Management System (EDOCS) into a smooth search experience. The user interface furthermore allows for visitors to search only within FCC. gov and EDOCS and offers an array of facets to help further refine search results. Work will continue in the weeks and months ahead to carry on refining the relevancy of the search engine results. Over time, we would like to continue expanding on the unified searching capability to add new datasets to the application.
Updated Receptive Design
The design of the site has been upgraded to a more modern look-and-feel that is responsive to the device you are using. This means that the display will adjust depending on whether you are using a mobile gadget, tablet or computer. The site also utilizes brighter colors and more white space to direct eye focus and enhance the scanability of webpages. These improvements are intended to provide an easier user experience for site visitors navigating the website.
While we’ve completed the proceed to a new website, the FCC will continue to work with internal and external stakeholders to identify and fix any bugs, broken links, or missing content. Please inform us about any issues you find. You are able to continue to provide feedback to webfeedback@fcc. gov as we work to improve the website.
December 10, 2015 – 10: 00 am
David Kitzmiller | FCC Webmaster
Deanna Stephens | FCC. Gov Task Manager
Past due last night we officially launched the newest FCC. gov. The new site features a more responsive…
Just before Labor Day time we previewed the key auction breakthrough slated to occur this fall. The Task Force has already covered much of the ground on that list – and then some: we released the Application Procedures Public Notice; unveiled the baseline and opening bid prices for broadcast stations; and announced the particular bidding units, upfront payments, and minimum opening bids for forwards auction bidding in each PEA. We also released guidance concerning the prohibited communications rules and clarified our policy regarding the disbursement of reverse auction incentive payments in order to third parties.
Next week, the window for electronic filing of reverse auction applications starts. In anticipation of that important milestone, we’ve already kicked off a brand new round of reverse auction bidder education and training opportunities that will continue until the reverse auction begins next year.
Our academic efforts began with the posting of the online interactive tutorial that walks broadcasters through the pre-auction process, summarizes the technical and legal details of the reverse auction, provides an online demonstration of the reverse auction app (Form 177), and more. Broadcasters can learn about the application process at their own pace and from any pc. The Task Force will add to the guide in early 2016 to walk potential broadcast bidders through the bidding program and post-auction procedures.
Next week, on December 8th, we will be offering a workshop about the application process for broadcasters. Interested celebrations will be able to attend in person or see the event online. It will cover the particular pre-auction process and provide guidance on the way to complete and submit the application, including an overview of ownership requirements, route sharing agreements, the “red light rule, ” and the relinquishment options. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions of FCC staff following the presentation, plus staff contacts are listed in the forms and materials for any follow-up questions.
When the software window opens, the Form 177 should go live. We’ve already released the particular instructions for the form, with which interested broadcasters can begin to familiarize by themselves even before we post the application. The particular instructions include technical and system support phone numbers for potential reverse auction bidders.
Lastly, next month we will release the document formats for the reverse auction round results data. The file formats will be of interest to broadcasters that may wish to download the results of each round for each of their participating stations, yet all bidders will be able to view their very own round results information on the FCC’s online auction portal during the public sale.
We also have several news for forward auction individuals. In November we released information file specifications for the impairment information that will be made available for download in order to forward auction bidders. Next, we will be releasing the file formats for forward auction round results downloading before the end of the year. We plan to make available Form 175 directions in early January, as well as an online tutorial for the forward auction software process.
We’ll convey more to announce in the coming weeks as we move through the applications procedure and get closer to broadcasters’ initial obligations on March 29, 2016. Till then, stay tuned.