Connect America Phase II Auction – Last week, the FCC released its final list of “eligible” census blocks for the auction. You can access this information at –
List of census blocks -- https://www.fcc.gov/files/caf2auctionpublishblockcsv.
List of census block groups -- https://www.fcc.gov/files/caf2auctionpublishcbgcsv.
I expect the FCC will issue its next auction order, setting forth bidder qualifications and the auction design, either at its open meeting at the end of January or at the February meeting. That will trigger the filing date for bidders to submit their short form applications – most likely in the 2nd Quarter – and then the auction may be held towards the end of the 3rd Quarter.
Wireline Infrastructure (1) – In November, the FCC adopted several new rules to facilitate pole attachments, including ensuring that capital costs that are recovered in make-ready are not included in recurring rates for attachments. The FCC also issued a further notice of rulemaking to discuss whether to codify its policy of permitting attachers to overlash without filing a pole attachment application. Comments on that proposal are due by mid-February, and I expect the FCC will address the overlashing issue, as well as other attachment issues it did not act on in November, around the middle of next year.
Wireline Infrastructure (2) – Also in November, the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee issued its first set of recommendations, covering a wide-range of measures addressing wireline and wireless deployments. The Committee is scheduled to meet on January 23/24 to discuss the next set of recommendations. I expect the FCC will factor these recommendations into any decisions it makes on pole attachments and removing barriers to deployments.
Wireline Infrastructure (3) – There is a great deal of discussion that Congress may start next year by seeking to enact “infrastructure” legislation. Right now, it is not clear whether broadband will be included, and if so, how. For instance, if broadband is included, which areas should be eligible to receive funding and who should award that funding? So, stand by.
Restoring Internet Freedom – Earlier in the month, the FCC repealed the old 2015 Open Internet (Title II) rules, but left in place a “Transparency” rule, which would require ISPs to disclose information about their broadband Internet access service terms and conditions and management practices, including whether they engage in paid prioritization. That rule will take effect once it is approved by the Office of Management and Budget, which may occur in the spring. ISPs also will need to stay vigilant about privacy and data security requirements, which the Federal Trade Commission should oversee (once the 9th circuit court rules) and which states will seek to oversee as well.
In sum, over the next year, FCC and Congress appear set to undertake a series of actions that will give service providers many reasons to invest in their networks and expand their deployments.