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Release of Eligible Census Blocks for Rural Broadband Experiments

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Released: July 25, 2014
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PUBLIC NOTICE

Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0513

445 12th St., S.W.

Internet: http://www.fcc.gov

Washington, D.C. 20554

TTY: 1-888-835-5322

DA 14-1021

Released: July 25, 2014

WIRELINE COMPETITION BUREAU RELEASES LIST OF

CENSUS BLOCKS ELIGIBLE FOR RURAL BROADBAND EXPERIMENTS AND

ANNOUNCES ENHANCEMENTS TO MAP DEPICTING INITIAL PHASE II ELIGIBLE

AREAS

WC Docket No. 10-90

On July 14, 2014, the Commission released the Rural Broadband Experiments Order finalizing

decisions to use on a limited scale Connect America funding for rural broadband experiments in price cap

areas that will deploy new, robust broadband to consumers.1 The Commission directed the Wireline

Competition Bureau (Bureau) to release a list of the census blocks that are eligible for rural broadband

experiment support and their associated support amounts, as calculated by the Connect America Cost

Model (CAM), within 15 days of the release of the Order.2

Today, the Bureau makes this list available at

http://www.fcc.gov/encyclopedia/rural-broadband-experiments. Census blocks not on this list are not

eligible for funding in the rural broadband experiments. The Bureau also announces that the map

previously released depicting the geographic areas that may be eligible for Phase II support now provides

more detailed information regarding location totals and support amounts at the census tract level, which

may be a useful tool for applicants interested in applying for rural broadband experiment funding. This

map is available at http://www.fcc.gov/maps/fcc-connect-america-fund-phase-ii-initial-eligible-areas-

map.

In the Rural Broadband Experiments Order, the Commission concluded that it would accept

applications for three categories of experiments.3 For categories one and two,4 entities must propose to

serve census blocks eligible for funding in the rural broadband experiments with a monthly cost per

location exceeding the Connect America Phase II funding threshold ($52.50), but below the extremely

high-cost threshold ($207.81),5 and not served by an unsubsidized competitor offering voice service and

Internet access providing at least 3 Mbps downstream/768 kbps upstream as identified by the National

1 Connect America Fund, ETC Annual Reports and Certifications, WC Docket Nos. 10-90, 14-58, Report and Order

and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 14-98 (rel. July 14, 2014) (Rural Broadband Experiments Order).

The Order establishes a budget of $100 million for the rural broadband experiments and an objective, clear cut

methodology for selecting winning applications.

2 Id. at para. 15 n.38.

3 Id. at paras. 24-29.

4 See id. at paras. 26-27. Experiments proposed for category one must meet very high performance standards, while

experiments proposed for category two must meet specified minimum performance standards that exceed the

Commission’s current standards. Id. For both categories, winning bidders will be selected based on their cost-

effectiveness as compared to the support the CAM calculates for the relevant census blocks. Id. at 35.

5 Id. at para. 15. Earlier this year, the Bureau adopted these preliminary support thresholds for determining which

areas are eligible for model-based support. See Connect America Fund, High-Cost Universal Service Support, WC

Docket Nos. 10-90, 05-337, Report and Order, 29 FCC Rcd 3964, 4033, para. 165 (2014).

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Broadband Map.6 For the third category, entities must propose to serve exclusively census blocks where

all price cap locations in the census block exceed the extremely high-cost threshold and are unserved by

an unsubsidized competitor as defined above.7 To increase the likelihood that experiments serving Tribal

census blocks will receive funding, the Commission also adopted a 25 percent bidding credit for entities

that propose an experiment for any of the three categories that will serve only Tribal census blocks.8

The list released today identifies the state and county where each census block is located along

with its tract and block ID numbers; the total number of locations in the census block (which includes

locations served by rate-of-return carriers and price cap carriers), the total number of price cap locations

in the census block, and the total number of price cap locations within the block that are eligible for rural

broadband experiment support.9 The list also identifies which census blocks have locations that fall

within the support thresholds and thus are eligible for categories one and two (“Eligible Locations”

column), and which census blocks have price cap locations that exceed the extremely high-cost threshold

and thus are eligible for category three (“PC Locations Over Extremely High Cost Threshold” column).

Finally, the list identifies the annual support amount for each census block as calculated by the CAM,10

and flags which census blocks are eligible for the Tribal bidding credit for purposes of these

experiments.11

Finally, the Phase II map posted on the Commission’s website has been enhanced to provide

more detailed information at the census tract level, which may help parties interested in seeking funding

for rural broadband experiments generally identify potential areas for such experiments. The map now

has a mouseover feature that allows users to zoom in at the census tract level to view: (1) the census tract

number, (2) the total number of locations eligible for Phase II support, and (3) the CAM-derived amount

of annual Phase II support available to serve these locations (identified on the map as “Price Cap

Between”). Additionally, the displayed information separately provides the total number of price cap

locations in the census tract that exceed the extremely high-cost threshold, and are unserved by an

unsubsidized competitor (identified on the map as “Price Cap Above”).12

Applicants may wish initially to

6 Rural Broadband Experiments Order, FCC 14-98, at para. 15. The Bureau will conduct a challenge process

similar to the process it has adopted for determining eligible areas for model-based support after the Bureau has

issued a public notice identifying the winning bidders. See id. at para. 51.

7 Id. at para. 28. Winning bidders for category three will be selected based on the lowest bid per location. Id. at

para. 37.

8 Id. at paras. 43-44.

9 The total number of locations in the “Total PC Locations” column and the “Total PC Experimental Locations In

Block” may differ in some limited circumstances because the cost per location has been calculated in certain census

blocks on a sub-census-block basis. See id. at para. 13 n.34. We remind entities that they must commit to serve the

total number of price cap locations in each census block (i.e., the number of locations in the “Total PC Locations”

column), but their cost-effectiveness scores will be determined using only locations that are eligible for funding (i.e.,

the number of locations in the “Total PC Experimental Locations In Block” column). Id. at 15. An entity’s

application must list the census block IDs for each census block it proposes to serve, the number of locations that are

eligible for funding in each of those blocks, and the total amount of support it requests for the ten year term (i.e., the

requested annual support amount times 10). Id. at para. 47.

10 The CAM does not calculate support amounts for census blocks above the extremely high-cost threshold; thus, the

eligible census blocks list indicates that the model-based support amounts for these census blocks is $0.

11 The Commission has indicated that it will not entertain any proposals to modify the list of census blocks identified

as Tribal. Rural Broadband Experiments Order, FCC 14-98, at para. 44.

12 Not all census blocks that are identified as extremely high-cost on the Phase II map will be eligible for rural

broadband experiment support. As noted above, only those extremely high-cost census blocks where all price cap

locations are extremely high-cost are eligible for rural broadband experiment support. See id. at para. 28 n.60. The

(continued…)

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identify general regions of interest on the map and then review the more detailed census block

information in the files we are releasing today to confirm the eligibility of particular census blocks.

For additional information, contact Katie King (Katie.King@fcc.gov) or Ian Forbes

(Ian.Forbes@fcc.gov) of the Wireline Competition Bureau, Telecommunications Access Policy Division,

(202) 418-7400.

– FCC –

(Continued from previous page)

list of the census blocks eligible for rural broadband experiment support that the Bureau releases today only includes

those extremely high-cost census blocks where all price cap locations are extremely high-cost.

3

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