On Wednesday, July 14, 2021, the Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force, Wireline Competition Bureau, and the Office of Economics and Analytics released a Public Notice (DA 21-826) announcing the opening of the window for competitive eligible telecommunications carriers (“ETCs”) that receive legacy high-cost support for mobile services to file an optional certification about the use of such support. As a reminder, competitive ETCs that receive legacy high-cost support for mobile wireless services are required to use an increasing percentage of support on the deployment, maintenance, and operation of mobile networks that provide 5G services. Competitive ETCs are required to spend at least one-third of legacy support in 2021, two-thirds of legacy support in 2022, and all legacy support in 2023 and beyond on 5G. The Commission, however, recognized that competitive ETC’s budgets and deployment plans for 2021 may have already been finalized at the time the requirements were adopted, and thus granted competitive ETCs the flexibility to spend less than the required one-third of their legacy support in 2021 on 5G and make up any shortfall by proportionally increasing their spending on 5G in 2022.
In order to take advantage of this support usage flexibility, competitive ETCs must certify their use of legacy support in 2021 by completing the Certification Form provided by the Commission. The form must be completed and filed via ECFS on or before August 16, 2021.
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