In the January Open Meeting, the Commission adopted a Public Notice (“Notice”) on the Connect America Fund Phase II Auction 903 (“the Auction” or “Auction 903”). The Notice outlines procedures, and notice and filing requirements for the Auction, scheduled for July 24, 2018. The Auction will award up to $198 million annually for 10 years to service providers that commit to offer voice and broadband services to fixed locations in unserved high-cost areas. Auction 903 will be the first auction to award ongoing high-cost universal service support using a multiple-round, reverse auction. The Notice also outlines the following notable dates and deadlines:
- The Auction will begin on July 24, 2018, and the initial schedule for bidding rounds will be announced by public notice approximately one week before the start of the auction.
- Auction Application Tutorial is available via internet by March 13, 2018.
- Short-Form Application (FCC Form 183) filing window opens by March 19, 2018 at 12:00 noon ET.
- Electronic filing procedures will be provided in a public notice to be released in advance of the opening of the filing window.
- Short-Form Application (FCC Form 183) filing window deadline is March 30, 2018; 6:00 pm ET.
- Auction Bidding Tutorial available via Internet by June 28, 2018.
- Mock Auction begins during week of July 16, 2018.
- Auction begins July 24, 2018.
- Long-Form applications will be due 10 business days after the release of the Auction 903 closing public notice, unless otherwise provided by public notice.
- The prohibited communications rule applying to all Auction 903 applicants will begin at the short-form application filing deadline and end at the long-form application deadline.
In addition to typical short-form application requirements (e.g., disclosure of agreements/bidding arrangements; ownership disclosures; USF, due diligence and ETC certifications), the Public Notice also provides information on the specific Phase II eligibility requirements and certifications, involving but not limited to: state selections and impermissible state overlaps; operational information and assumptions; financial statement submissions and other qualifications; performance tier and latency combinations eligibility; and other specific information required from applicants.
The FCC also released an additional Public Notice announcing that an updated guide that provides technical and mathematical detail regarding the proposed bidding, assignment, and support amount determination procedures for the auction. The guide provides examples and serves as a supplement to the bidding and bid processing procedures described in the Auction Public Notice, and is available under the “Education” tab of the Commission’s Phase II auction website. Parties that are considering participating in the Auction are strongly encouraged to review both Public Notices carefully prior to submitting a short-form application.
Finally, the Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) released a subsequent Public Notice with a revised list and map of eligible census blocks for the Connect America Fund Phase II Auction (“Auction 903”). The revised lists remove census block groups with a $0 reserve price and census blocks that overlap certain rate-of-return carrier study area boundaries. Based on the revised list, 30,033 census block groups, totaling 210, 647 census blocks, will be available for bidding.
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