On October 29, 2020, the Commission released the Report and Order (“R&O”) in the 5G Fund proceeding (GN Docket No. 20-32). This item was adopted at the October Open Meeting.
The adopted R&O incorporates the following relevant changes from the circulated draft version:
- The Commission will allow legacy support recipients the flexibility to elect to use less than one-third of the legacy support they receive in 2021 towards 5G deployment and support. Those who elect to use less than one-third of their funding in 2021 must make up for the shortfall by proportionally increasing the requirement in 2022. Any carriers wishing to take advantage of this flexibility must certify to the Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) by March 31, 2021 (or 30 days after the Commission receives Paperwork Reduction Act approval, whichever is later) as to the amount of 2021 legacy support it will use for the 5G deployment requirements and certify that it will make up any shortfall in 2022 (¶ 65).
- The Commission directs OET and Bureaus to consider adopting, after notice and comment, a de minimis exception to any 5G deployment public interest obligations that they may adopt as part of the proceeding to develop carrier-specific deployment coverage requirements. The Commission directs OET and Bureaus to consider the amount of legacy support a carrier receives in relation to the administrative costs of establishing and verifying 5G deployment while setting any de minimis exceptions (¶ 69). This is a change from the draft R&O where the Commission declined to adopt a de minimis
- The Commission clarifies that a legacy support recipient must maintain the accuracy and completeness of the information provided its initial and annual reports, and any substantial change in the accuracy or completeness of any such report must be reported within 10 business days after the reportable event occurs. The Commission also clarifies that it retains its authority to look behind the recipients’ initial and annual reports and to take action to address any violation (¶¶ 92, 96).
- To address concerns of “disproportionate penalties,” the Commission adds that it will limit the amount of support that may be subject to recovery to the legacy support not spent on the deployment, operation, and/or maintenance of voice and broadband networks that support 5G meeting the performance requirements (¶ 108).
- The Commission clarifies that mobile competitive ETCs may also use legacy support within any of the designated service areas of an affiliated mobile competitive ETC (e.g., where several ETCs share a common holding company), regardless of whether those areas span more than one state (¶ 111).
- The Commission also amended § 54.207 in the rule appendix to allow mobile competitive ETCs to use legacy-high cost support regardless of whether the service areas span more than one state or territory.
- The Commission clarifies that a 5G Fund support recipient must maintain the accuracy and completeness of the information provided its annual report, and any substantial change in the accuracy or completeness of any annual report must be reported within 10 business days after the reportable event occurs. (¶ 132).
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