FCC Publishes PR/USVI Funds R&O in the Federal Register

On Monday, September 30, 2019, the Commission released the Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration (“Order” and “Order on Recon”) in the Uniendo a Puerto Rico Fund and Connect USVI Fund proceeding, which was adopted in the September Open Meeting (WC Docket Nos. 18-143, 10-90, 14-58). The Order aims to facilitate the deployment of fast, resilient, and reliable networks to all parts of Puerto Rico (“PR”) and the U.S. Virgin Islands (“USVI”) (collectively, “the Territories”) to ensure these networks can survive disaster and provide digital opportunity to citizens in these Territories.

There were few significant changes made from the draft item to the adopted item. Notably, the Commission clarifies that for mobile wireless providers, it adopts the 5G-NR technology standards as the minimum standard for providers. For fixed providers, the adopted Order assigns fewer network resiliency points for use of high-wind rated composite poles over standard aerial wireline poles, favoring using new pole technologies over traditional poles for increased resiliency. Additionally, the Order directs the Wireline Competition Bureau to release an initial Public Notice for fixed competitive proposals within 90 days from publication of the Order in the Federal Register, rather than 90 days from the release of the item.

On November 7, 2019, the FCC published the Report and Order and Order on Reconsideration in the Federal Register, thus establishing the following effective date:

The Order is effective December 9, 2019, with the exception of the following rule sections which require OMB approval and will be approved at a later date: §§ 54.313 (annual reporting requirements for high-cost recipients), 54.316 (broadband deployment reporting and certification requirements for high-cost recipients), 54.1503 (geographic area and locations to be served by Stage 2 fixed support recipients), 54.1505 (Stage 2 fixed support application process), 54.1508 (letter of credit requirements for Stage 2 fixed support recipients), and 54.1513 through 54.1515 (provision of Stage 2 mobile support, Stage 2 mobile additional annual reporting, and disaster preparation and response measures requirements).

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