FCC Releases FNPRM to extend PR/USVI Mobile and Fixed Support

On October 28, 2022, the FCC released a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) seeking comment on proposals to ensure that mobile carriers continue to implement advanced telecommunications services and that fixed providers have sufficient resiliency during the transition period of the Bringing Puerto Rico Fund and Connect USVI Fund, which was adopted at the October Open Meeting.  The FNPRM seeks comment on the following:

Transitional Funding for Mobile Services.  The current three-year mobile support term for carriers in Puerto Rico and the USVI ends in 2023.  The FNPRM proposes a period of up to 24 months of transitional support for mobile carriers currently receiving Stage 2 mobile support, which would begin in the month immediately following the conclusion of each eligible carrier’s current support.  The FNPRM also proposes to provide transitional support for each eligible facilities-based mobile carrier in an amount equal to the Stage 2 mobile support it currently receives for 5G technologies.  The Draft FNPRM also seeks comment on a variety of aspects of mobile transitional support in addition to the above, including eligible areas where support may be used (and whether the maps generated as part of the Broadband Data Collection should be used to determine mobile support), appropriate technological uses of transition support, and any reporting and minimum service requirements.

Extending Phase-Down of Fixed Frozen Support.  Frozen support for fixed providers in Puerto Rico and the USVI that did not win competitive support is scheduled to end in June of 2023.  The FNPRM proposes to extend the existing support amount until December 2025.  The FNPRM also seeks comment on whether the period of time and amount of support proposed are appropriate.  The FNPRM also proposes to require all phase-down frozen support to be used on network resiliency and redundancy, and to require all incumbent providers who receive phase-down support to submit a spending proposal to the Wireline Competition Bureau for approval.

Comments will be due 30 days after publication in the Federal Register, and Reply Comments will be due 45 days after publication in the Federal Register.

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