FCC Releases Public Notice on MF-II Challenge Process Handset Requirements

The Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force along with the WCB and WTB (the “Bureaus”) released a Public Notice (“Notice”) providing further requirements for the handsets that mobile wireless providers in the Mobility Fund Phase II (“MF-II”) MF-II challenge process must designate for challengers to use when conducting speed tests in areas deemed presumptively ineligible for MF-II support. Additionally, the Commission adopts procedures for challengers to request access to the Universal Service Administrative Company (“USAC”) challenge process portal.

As you may be aware, the MF-II challenge process will begin with a new, one-time collection of current, standardized coverage data on qualified 4G LTE service, which the Commission will use to establish the map of areas presumptively eligible for support. Interested parties will then have an opportunity to challenge areas deemed presumptively ineligible by submitting actual outdoor speed test data to demonstrate the lack of unsubsidized, qualified 4G LTE coverage. Speed test data must be collected using a pre-approved handset; each mobile wireless provider with qualified 4G LTE coverage is required to identify at least three readily available handset models for this purpose.

Additional Handset Requirements – Further requirements for the types of devices that may be used for speed tests:

  • Each provider must identify in its filing at least one device that is either a) officially supported by the latest versions of industry-standard drive test software (JDSU, ZK- SAM, Rohde & Schwartz, or TEMS) or b) engineering-capable and able to be unlocked and put into diagnostic mode to interface with drive test software.
  • At least one of the three specified devices must run the Android operating system (can be the same device as the one that meets the drive-test software compatibility standard).
  • The Commission will not impose a requirement related to handset cost.

Accessing the USAC Portal – Participants must use the USAC portal to file a challenge and/or respond to a challenge, and to access certain information that is pertinent to a challenge. The Bureaus adopt a modified version of the process proposed in the previous MF-II Challenge Process Comment Public Notice, and will require any eligible service provider wishing to participate in the challenge process to provide the Commission, via web-based form, the legal name of the entity, its FRN, and contact information of up to three users that should be granted access to the portal. The Commission will use a website-based form to collect this information (rather than email), which will be announced, along with the deadline, in a subsequent public notice.

For a party filing a waiver petition seeking to participate as a challenger (i.e., a non-service provider or a government entity), the Bureaus propose to require that party to submit the name and email addresses of up to three users that should have access. This proposal will be adopted if there are no comments filed. The updated address for submission of waiver petitions is [email protected].

Please Contact Us if you have any questions.

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