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Rural Health Care Support Mechanism

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Released: May 3, 2011

Federal Communications Commission

DA 11-819

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of
)
)

Rural Health Care Support Mechanism
)
WC Docket No. 02-60

ORDER

Adopted: May 3, 2011

Released: May 3, 2011

By the Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau:

I.

INTRODUCTION

1.
In response to various requests for extensions of time to meet certain Pilot Program
deadlines, the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) takes several actions to facilitate ongoing
administration and completion of the Rural Health Care Pilot Program (Pilot Program).1 First, subject to
certain conditions, the Bureau extends by one year, to June 30, 2012, the deadline for participants in the
Pilot Program to choose a vendor and request funding commitments from the Universal Service
Administrative Company (USAC).2 Second, the Bureau extends by one year the invoice deadline for
Pilot Program participants.3

II.

BACKGROUND

2.
In September 2006, the Commission established a three-year pilot to examine ways to use
the universal service rural health care funding mechanism to enhance public and non-profit health care
providers' access to advanced telecommunications and information services.4 In November 2007, the
Commission selected 69 projects to participate in the Pilot Program and specified the maximum amount


1 The Commission has delegated authority to the Bureau to waive the relevant sections of Subpart G of Part 54 of
the Commission's rules "to the extent they prove unreasonable or inconsistent with the sound and efficient
administration of the Pilot Program." Rural Health Care Support Mechanism, WC Docket No. 02-60, Order, 22
FCC Rcd 20360, 20422, para 124 (2007) (2007 Pilot Program Selection Order).
2 The first funding year commenced on July 1, 2007; the second funding year commenced on July 1, 2008; and the
third funding year commenced on July 1, 2009. See 2007 Pilot Program Selection Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 20373,
para 33. The Commission initially established June 30, 2010, as the filing deadline for participants to submit forms
for the second and third funding years of the Pilot Program. See id. (citing 47 C.F.R. 54.623); Deadline
Established for Completing Funding Year 2008 Application Process for the Rural Health Care Pilot Program
, WC
Docket No. 02-60, Public Notice, 24 FCC Rcd 10590 (Wireline Comp. Bur. 2009). On February 18, 2010, the
Bureau extended by one year, to June 30, 2011, the deadline for Pilot Program participants to select a vendor and
file their funding commitment requests with USAC. Rural Health Care Support Mechanism, WC Docket No. 02-
60, Order, 25 FCC Rcd 1423 (2010) (2010 Pilot Program Extension Order).
3 See 2007 Pilot Program Selection Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 20409-10, 20362, paras. 4, 94; see also 2010 Pilot
Program Extension Order
, 25 FCC Rcd at 1427, para. 8.
4 47 U.S.C. 254(h)(2)(A); Rural Health Care Support Mechanism, WC Docket No. 02-60, Order, 21 FCC Rcd
11111, para. 1 (2006) (2006 Pilot Program Order).


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of funding that would be provided to each project.5 Participants are eligible to receive funding for a
three-year period, up to their maximum support amount, for up to 85 percent of the costs associated with:
(1) the construction of state or regional broadband networks and the advanced telecommunications and
information services provided over those networks; (2) connecting to nationwide backbone providers
Internet2 or National LambdaRail (NLR); and (3) connecting to the public Internet.6 In order to receive
funding, a participant must request funding on FCC Form 466-A, and receive a funding commitment
letter from USAC.
3.
Requirements to Participate in the Program. The Commission required participants in
the Pilot Program to select the most cost effective vendor, following the same procedures that apply to the
existing rural health care funding mechanism.7 First, participants file an FCC Form 465 with USAC to
begin a competitive bidding process by making a bona fide request for supported services.8 USAC posts
the completed FCC Form 465 on its website, and the participant must wait at least twenty-eight days
before selecting a service provider.9 This competitive bidding process is intended to allow participants an
opportunity to identify and select the most cost-effective service provider for their proposed network
projects.10
4.
After a vendor is selected, the participant submits a funding request to USAC on an FCC
Form 466-A, which specifies the vendor selected and the cost of the selected service(s).11 After receiving
and approving a participant's FCC Form 466-A and related attachments, USAC issues a funding
commitment letter for the requested services.12 Pursuant to the Commission's rules, a rural health care
funding year runs from July 1 through June 30 and rural health care support recipients, including Pilot
Program participants, must submit their FCC Forms 466-A for a given funding year by the end of that
funding year, i.e., by June 30.13 The original deadline for requesting all remaining funding for the Pilot
Program on FCC Form 466-A was June 30, 2010.14 Funds are not actually disbursed until the program
participant submits invoices for work completed.15 Each participant has five years from the date of their


5 See 2007 Pilot Program Selection Order, 22 FCC Rcd 20360, 20429-30, Appendix B. As a result of the merger of
certain projects there are currently 62 participants in the Pilot Program. See FCC Rural Health Care Pilot Program
Webpage, available at http://www.fcc.gov/cgb/rural/rhcp.html (last visited Mar. 22, 2011).
6 2007 Pilot Program Selection Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 20361, para. 2.
7 See id. at 20400, 20403, paras. 78, 86.
8 The Form 465 is the means by which an applicant requests bids for supported services and certifies to USAC that
the applicant is eligible to receive support from the RHC support mechanism. Id. at 20403, para. 83. Participants
must provide sufficient information to define the scope of the project and network costs to enable an effective
competitive bidding process. See id. at 20400, 20403, paras. 78, 86.
9 Id. at 20403, para. 83.
10 See id. at 20413-14, para 101.
11 See id. at 20403-04, para 83.
12 See id. at 20409, para 93.
13 47 C.F.R. 54.623(b)-(c); see also, FCC Form 466-A Instructions, available at
http://www.usac.org/rhc/tools/required-forms.aspx (last visited Mar. 22, 2011).
14 2007 Pilot Program Selection Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 20370, para. 23.
15 Id. at 20411, para. 98.


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initial funding commitment letter to complete network buildout and submit invoices to USAC for
reimbursement.16
5.
In February 2010, the Bureau extended by one year, to June 30, 2011, the deadline for
Pilot Program participants to select a vendor and submit funding requests to USAC.17 The Bureau
concluded that by providing participants an extra year to file their funding commitment requests, greater
progress could be made toward the deployment of networks funded by the Pilot Program.18 The Bureau
also noted, however, that it could be necessary to "set milestones to determine whether projects are no
longer capable of continuing in the Pilot Program."19 The Bureau declined in that order to provide
additional time for Pilot Program participants to file invoices.20
6.
Program extension requests. Twenty-three participants in the Pilot Program, listed in
Appendix A, have requested an extension of the June 30, 2011 deadline to request a funding
commitment.21 On December 6, 2010, the Bureau issued a public notice seeking comments on the first


16 See 2007 Pilot Program Selection Order, 22 FCC Rcd at 20409-10, 20362, paras. 4, 94 (2007); see also 2010
Pilot Program Extension Order
, 25 FCC Rcd at 1427, para. 8. For instance, if a particular participant received its
initial funding commitment on April 7, 2011, it is required to complete invoicing by April 7, 2016.
17 See 2010 Pilot Program Extension Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1426, paras. 6-7.
18 See id. at para. 7.
19 2010 Pilot Program Extension Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1428, para. 9.
20 Id. at 1427, para. 8.
21 Letter from Don Kelso, Executive Director, Indiana Rural Health Association, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline
Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Nov. 17, 2010) (ITN
Extension Petition); Letter from Kenneth L. Oakley, PhD, FACHE, Project Coordinator, Western New York Rural
Area Health Education Center, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications
Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Dec. 8, 2010) (R-AHEC Extension and Invoicing Petition); Letter from
Rebecca Madison, Executive Director, Alaska eHealth Network, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition
Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Dec. 9, 2010) (AeHN Extension
Petition); Letter from Brian Thibeau, President, New England Telehealth Consortium, to Sharon Gillett, Chief,
Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Dec. 9, 2010)
(NETC Extension and Invoicing Petition); Letter from Kim Lamb, Executive Director, Oregon Health Network, to
Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60
(filed Dec. 14, 2010) (OHN Extension Petition); Letter from Art Spies, Project Coordinator, Iowa Rural Health
Telecommunications Program, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications
Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Dec. 21, 2010) (IRHTP Extension Petition); Letter from W. Roger
Poston, II, Ed.D., Associate Project Coordinator, Palmetto State Providers Network, to Sharon Gillett, Chief,
Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Dec. 21, 2010)
(PSPN Extension Petition); Letter from Kipman Smith, Executive Director, Health Information Exchange of
Montana, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC
Docket No. 02-60 (filed Dec. 22, 2010) (HIEM Extension and Invoicing Petition); Letter from Dale Alverson, MD,
Project Coordinator, Southwest Telehealth Access Grid, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau,
Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Dec. 22, 2010) (SWTAG Extension Petition);
Letter from Michael Simpson, Project Coordinator, Adirondack-Champlain Telemedicine Information Network, WC
Docket No. 02-60 (filed Jan. 4, 2011) (ACTION Extension Petition); Letter from Suzanne Leslie, Project
Coordinator, Arkansas Telehealth Network, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal
Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Jan. 5, 2011) (ATN Extension Petition); Letter from
David Mathews, PhD, Project Coordinator, Kentucky Behavioral Telehealth Network, to Federal Communications
Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Jan. 5, 2011) (KBTN Extension Petition); Letter from Julie Schourup,
MD, MPH, Project Coordinator, Arizona Rural Community Health Information Exchange, to Federal
Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Jan. 7, 2011) (ARCHIE Extension Petition); Letter
(continued....)


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such petition, which was filed by the Indiana Telehealth Network (ITN).22 On January 28, 2011, the
Bureau issued a public notice stating that ITN's filing would be treated as a request for extension for all
participants in the Pilot Program, and that extension requests filed by participants after the ITN petition
would be treated as ex parte comments in the open proceeding initiated by ITN.23 Projects requested an
extension of time ranging from six months to three years in duration.24 Additionally, one petitioner, the
Southwest Telehealth Access Grid, asked that the Pilot Program be extended by an additional funding
year.25
7.
Generally, the petitioners assert that they have taken full advantage of the prior extension
of the deadline for participants to select a vendor and submit funding requests to USAC.26 However,
despite significant progress on their respective projects, they are concerned that they will still be unable to


(...continued from previous page)
from Maureen Ideker, Steering Committee Chair, Greater Minnesota Telehealth Broadband Initiative, to Sharon
Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed
Jan. 7, 2011) (GMBTI Extension Petition); Letter from Hank Fanberg, Associate Project Coordinator, Texas Health
Information Network Collaborative, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal
Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Jan. 7, 2011) (THINC Extension Petition); Comments
of June E. Collmer, RN, NP, JD, Interim Executive Director, and Karen S. Rheuban, MD, Board Chair, Virginia
Telehealth Network (Virginia Acute Stroke Telehealth Project), WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Jan. 7, 2011) (VTN
Extension and Invoicing Petition); Letter from Eric P. Brown, President & CEO, California Telehealth Network, to
Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60
(filed Jan. 18, 2011) (CTN Extension and Invoicing Petition); Letter from Norman H. Okamura, Project
Coordinator, Pacific Broadband Telehealth Demonstration Project, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition
Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Jan. 21, 2011) (PBTDP Extension and
Invoicing Petition); Letter from Joy Grosser, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Iowa Health System, to
Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Feb. 18, 2011)
(IHS Extension Petition); Letter from Judith Argon, Project Coordinator, Geisinger Health System, to Sharon
Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Feb. 15, 2011) (Geisinger Extension
Petition); Letter from Dr. Robert Galli, Project Coordinator, University of Mississippi Medical Center, WC Docket
No. 02-60, to Thomas Buckley, Senior Deputy Division Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal
Communications Commission (filed Mar. 7, 2011) (UMMS Extension Petition); Letter from Deb LaMarche,
Program Manager, Utah Telehealth Network, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, WC Docket
No. 02-60 (filed Mar. 16, 2011) (UTN Extension Petition); Letter from Jeff Mero, Executive Director, Association
of Washington Public Hospital Districts, to Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, Federal Communications Commission,
WC Docket No. 02-60 (Apr. 4, 2011) (AWPHD Extension Petition).
22 See Comment Sought on Indiana Telehealth Network Request for Extension of the June 30, 2011 Deadline for
Funding Commitment Requests Under the Rural Health Care Pilot Program
, WC Docket No. 02-60, Public Notice,
DA 10-2297 (Wireline Comp. Bur. Dec. 6, 2010).
23 See Requests for Extension of the June 30, 2011 Deadline for Funding Commitments under the Universal Service
Rural Health Care Pilot Program
, WC Docket No. 02-60, Public Notice, DA 11-172 (Wireline Comp. Bur. Jan. 28,
2011).
24 See Appendix A.
25 SWTAG Extension Petition at 1.
26 See, e.g., HIEM Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2; ITN Extension Petition at 2; GMTBI Extension Petition at
1; ATN Extension Petition at 2; NETC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1-2; OHN Extension Petition at 1. For
example, since June 30, 2010, USAC has issued 81 funding commitments to Pilot Program participants. Without
the prior one year extension, Pilot participants would have been unable to draw on these funds.


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meet the June 30, 2011 deadline.27 Petitioners argue that several factors justify further extension of the
June 30, 2011 deadline. They state that complying with program requirements can be time-consuming,
and note that the program does not provide support for administrative expenses, such as paperwork
preparation and legal fees.28 For example, several petitioners point to the complexities involved in
preparing and posting RFPs and negotiating contracts with vendors, often for large networks, as a source
of project delay.29 Other petitioners attribute delays to the program's administrative review process, such
as the length of time involved in USAC's determination of the eligibility of network sites.30 In addition,
projects with many participating sites in their networks have experienced delay due to the extensive
coordination necessary to deploy their networks to these facilities under the Pilot Program.31 Some
petitioners state that an extension would enable them to more easily administer statewide or regional
networks with multiple funding streams, including projects that are concurrently funded by the Broadband
Technology Opportunities Program (BTOP).32 Due to the economic downturn, some petitioners have
incurred delays due to changes in the project scope or leadership structure, or in securing their 15 percent
match.33 Finally, several petitioners reported incurring delay due to geographic and weather conditions,
which can hinder the progress of network deployment.34 The petitioners, therefore, argue that an
extension is appropriate to ensure that Pilot Program projects are afforded sufficient opportunity to
complete their network deployment. No comments were filed in opposition of granting an extension of
the June 30, 2011 deadline.35


27 See, e.g., ACTION Extension Petition at 1; AeHN Extension Petition at 2; GMTBI Extension Petition at 1; IHS
Extension Petition at 1; NETC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2; OHN Extension Petition at 2; PSPN Extension
Petition at 1; SWTAG Extension Petition at 2; THINC Extension Petition at 2.
28 ARCHIE Extension Petition at 1; ATN Extension Petition 2; GMTBI Extension Petition at 1-2; HIEM Extension
and Invoicing Petition at 2; IRHTP Extension Petition at 1; KBTN Extension Petition at 1; NETC Extension and
Invoicing Petition at 2; OHN Extension Petition at 2-3; THINC Extension Petition at 2; UMMC Extension Petition
at 1; VTN Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2-3.
29 HIEM Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2; IHS Extension Petition at 1; IRHTP Extension Petition at 1; NETC
Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2; OHN Extension Petition at 2-3; PSPN Extension Petition at 1; UTN
Extension Petition at 1; AWPHD Extension Petition at 1.
30 AeHN Extension Petition at 1-2; ATN Extension Petition at 2; PBTDP Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2;
UMMC Extension Petition at 1; AWPHD Extension Petition at 1.
31 GMTBI Extension Petition at 1; IHS Extension Petition at 1; KBTN Extension Petition at 1; NETC Extension and
Invoicing Petition at 2-3; OHN Extension Petition at 2-3.
32 ATN Extension Petition at 3; PBTDP Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2; THINC Extension Petition at 1-2;
AWPHD Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1.
33 ACTION Extension Petition at 1-2; AeHN Extension Petition at 1; ARCHIE Extension Petition at 1; CTN
Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1; HIEM Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2; ITN Extension Petition at 1;
NETC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 3; SWTAG Extension Petition at 1; VTN Extension and Invoicing
Petition at 4.
34 ACTION Extension Petition at 1; OHN Extension Petition at 3; HIEM Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1.
35 Comments were received in favor of granting a one year extension. See Letter from J. David Kirby, President,
KirbyIMC, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC
Docket No. 02-60 (filed Dec. 30, 2010); Letter from Stephen C. Ward, FACHE, Project Coordinator, Colorado
Health Care Connections, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications
Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Jan. 26, 2011).


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8.
Invoice filing deadline extension requests. Eleven participants in the Pilot Program,
listed in Appendix B, have requested an extension of the five-year invoicing deadline.36 On December 9,
2010, the Bureau issued a public notice seeking comments on the first petition filed by Michigan Public
Health Institute (MPHI).37 On February 22, 2011, the Bureau issued a public notice seeking comment on
additional requests related to the five-year invoicing deadline.38 Participants sought various waivers of
the invoicing deadline: 1) a general waiver;39 2) a one year extension of the current deadline;40 3) a
fifteen-month extension of the current deadline;41 4) a three-year extension of the current deadline;42 and
5) five years to invoice from the date of each individual funding commitment letter, rather than five years
to invoice from the date of the first funding commitment letter.43
9.
Petitioners state that additional time to complete the invoicing process will benefit their
projects and compensate for earlier delays in getting their respective projects off the ground.44 They
assert that additional time to complete invoicing is needed to enable coordination with the construction of
other federally funded broadband projects, 45 to help petitioners obtain the maximum benefit from their
projects despite administrative challenges,46 and to ensure that multi-stage projects have sufficient time to


36 See Letter from Jeffrey R. Taylor, Ph.D., Executive Director, Michigan Public Health Institute, to Sharon Gillett,
Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Nov. 17,
2010) (MPHI Invoicing Petition); R-AHEC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1; NETC Extension and Invoicing
Petition at 1; HIEM Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1; Letter from WD Matthews, Kentucky Behavioral
Telehealth Network, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition bureau, Federal Communications Commission,
WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Jan. 4, 2011) (KBTN Invoicing Petition); VTN Extension and Invoicing Petition at 4;
Letter from Lawrence J. Malone, Chairman and Project Coordinator, West Virginia Telehealth Alliance, to Sharon
Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed
Jan. 7, 2011) (WVTA Invoicing Petition); Letter from Suzanne Leslie, Project Coordinator, Arkansas Telehealth
Network, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, WC
Docket no. 02-60 (filed Jan. 10, 2011) (ATN Invoicing Petition); Letter from Don Kelso, Executive Director,
Indiana Telehealth Network, to Sharon Gillett, Chief, Wireline Competition Bureau, Federal Communications
Commission, WC Docket No. 02-60 (filed Jan. 10, 2011) (ITN Invoicing Petition); CTN Extension and Invoicing
Petition at 1; PBTDP Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1.
37 See Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Comment on Michigan Public Health Institute Petition for Waiver of the
Five-Year Invoicing Period Under the Rural Health Care Pilot Program
, WC Docket No. 02-60, Public Notice, DA
10-2334 (Wireline comp. Bur. Dec. 9, 2010).
38 See Wireline Competition Bureau Seeks Comment on Requests for Waiver of the Rural Health Care Pilot
Program Five-Year Invoicing Deadline
, WC Docket No. 02-60, Public Notice, DA 11-336 (Wireline Comp. Bur.
Feb. 22, 2011).
39 See Invoicing Petition at 1.
40 See NETC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1; CTN Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1; PBTDP Extension
and Invoicing Petition at 1.
41 See MPHI Invoicing Petition at 1; VTN Extension and Invoicing Petition at 4; WVTA Invoicing Petition at 1.
42 See ATN Invoicing Petition at 3.
43 See ITN Invoicing Petition at 1; HIEM Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1-2; VTN Extension and Invoicing
Petition at 4; R-AHEC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1; MPHI Invoicing Petition at 2.
44 See e.g., NETC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2, 4; R-AHEC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1.
45 See ATN Invoicing Petition at 3; MPHI Invoicing Petition at 1.
46 See e.g., NETC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2, 4; WVTA Invoicing Petition at 1-2; R-AHEC Extension
and Invoicing Petition at 1; KBTN Invoicing Petition at 1; CTN Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2.


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complete invoicing.47 Finally, petitioners argue that an extended invoicing deadline will provide no
additional burden on USAC or the Commission.48

III.

DISCUSSION

10.
When the Commission established the Pilot Program in 2006, it concluded that
participants could receive funding for a three-year period, and five years was sufficient time to complete
network buildout and submit invoices to USAC for reimbursement. After more than three years, while
two-thirds of the Pilot projects have made substantial progress in beginning the construction of networks
to improve health care delivery in rural areas, some Pilot Program participants have not even selected a
vendor for their projects, a necessary first step before they submit funding requests to USAC. To provide
one last opportunity for participants to complete the necessary steps to proceed with their funded projects
and to stimulate deployment of broadband infrastructure necessary to support innovative telehealth in
areas where the need is most acute, while at the same time ensuring the administrability of the program
and the prudent use of public resources, the Bureau grants a one-year waiver of the current deadline
subject to the condition that Pilot Program participants have received at least one funding commitment
letter or filed at least one complete Form 466-A packet with USAC on or before June 30, 2011.49
Participants must meet this condition to receive the deadline extension. If they are not able to do so, their
projects will be deemed "no longer capable of continuing in the Pilot Program."50
11.
A number of program participants have also requested an extension of the five-year
invoicing deadline.51 In this order, the Bureau provides an additional year for Pilot Program participants
to complete the invoicing process for completed construction for their respective projects. Accordingly,
participants will not receive funding for invoices submitted to USAC more than six years from the date of
their initial funding commitment letters.
12.
Program Extension. We conclude that a limited one-time waiver of the June 30, 2011
deadline, subject to certain conditions, is appropriate for Pilot Program participants. The goal of the Pilot
Program was to stimulate deployment of the broadband infrastructure necessary to support innovative
telehealth and, in particular, telemedicine services in those areas of the country where the need for those
benefits is most acute.52 Absent a waiver of the funding year filing deadline, a number of projects would
suffer substantial hardship in meeting the existing June 30, 2011 funding commitment request deadline,
thereby endangering the success of their projects. Although two-thirds of projects have received at least
one funding commitment to date,53 a substantial portion of the funds allocated to participants in the 2007
Pilot Program Selection Order
remain uncommitted.54 Most projects continue, however, to work toward


47 See, e.g., NETC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 4; HIEM Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2-3.
48 See e.g., ATN Invoicing Petition at 2; MPHI Invoicing Petition at 3.
49 Establishing a June 30, 2012 deadline for filing funding requests addresses the issues raised by the petitioners
listed in Appendix A. These petitioners asked for an extension of the current June 30, 2011 deadline.
50 2010 Pilot Program Extension Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1428, para. 9.
51 Extending the invoicing deadline addresses the issues raised by the petitioners listed in Appendix B.
52 See 2006 Pilot Program Order, 21 FCC Rcd at 11111, para. 1.
53 Out of the 62 projects participating in the Pilot Program, 41 projects (or 66%) have received funding commitment
letters to date. Per Appendix B of the 2007 Pilot Program Selection Order, the maximum allowable funding for
such participants is $324 million, which is equal to 78% of the $418 million maximum allowable funding for all
participants. See 2007 Pilot Program Selection Order, Appendix B, 22 FCC Rcd. at 20429-30.
54 As of April 2011, the Pilot Program has committed $145 million to participating projects. This amount represents
35% of the total aggregate budget of $418 million for all 62 projects.


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receiving their funding commitments by preparing RFPs, selecting or negotiating with vendors, or
preparing funding commitments requests, and appear to be close to filing the necessary forms to receive a
funding commitment. As discussed above, delays for these projects have been due to, among other
things, the difficulty in coordinating among network sites (which can be numerous and geographically
diverse), ongoing negotiations over complex network deployment agreements with vendors, and the
economic downturn.55 We therefore find that waiver of section 54.623(b), as conditioned below, is
necessary for the sound and efficient administration of the Pilot Program, and thus is in the public
interest.56
13.
We conclude that a one year extension is sufficient to permit participants to focus their
energies on taking the necessary actions to remain in the program. A one year extension establishes an
appropriate timeframe for the submission of funding commitment requests. We thus decline to extend the
deadline for three years as requested by AeHN,57 or to issue individualized deadlines of shorter periods of
time as requested by NETC, HIEM, OHN, and UTN.58 We agree with all remaining petitioners who
requested up to a one year extension, which they indicate is adequate to ensure that they are afforded
sufficient opportunity to request funding for their networks under the Pilot Program.59 AeHN does not
offer evidence of special circumstances, beyond that submitted by the parties seeking a one year
extension, to justify its request for a three year extension; therefore, we do not find that a three year
extension is appropriate. Conversely, for administrative efficiency, we conclude it is more appropriate to
adopt a one year extension of the deadline for all participants, rather than extending the deadline by
varying lengths of time in response to specific requests.
14.
While we find that grant of a one year extension of the funding request filing deadline is
warranted based on the circumstances described by the participants, it is also important to promote timely


55 ACTION Extension Petition at 1-2; AeHN Extension Petition at 1; ARCHIE Extension Petition at 1; CTN
Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1; GMTBI Extension Petition at 1; HIEM Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2;
IHS Extension Petition at 1; IRHTP Extension Petition at 1; ITN Extension Petition at 1; KBTN Extension Petition
at 1; NETC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2-3; OHN Extension Petition at 2-3; PSPN Extension Petition at 1;
SWTAG Extension Petition at 1; VTN Extension and Invoicing Petition at 4; UTN Extension Petition at 1.
56 See 47 C.F.R. 54.623(b). The Commission may waive any provision of its rules on its own motion and for good
cause shown. 47 C.F.R. 1.3. A rule may be waived where the particular facts make strict compliance inconsistent
with the public interest. Northeast Cellular Telephone Co. v. FCC, 897 F.2d 1164, 1166 (D.C. Cir. 1990)
(Northeast Cellular). In addition, the Commission may take into account considerations of hardship, equity, or
more effective implementation of overall policy on an individual basis. WAIT Radio v. FCC, 418 F.2d 1153, 1157,
(D.C. Cir. 1969). In sum, waiver is appropriate if special circumstances warrant a deviation from the general rule,
and such deviation would better serve the public interest than strict adherence to the general rule. Northeast
Cellular
, 897 F.2d at 1166; Network IP v. FCC, 548 F.3d 116, 127-28 (D.C. Cir. 2008). Accord, Network IP, LLC v.
FCC,
548 F.3d 116, 127 (D.C. Cir. 2008).
57 AeHN Extension Petition at 1.
58 HIEM Extension and Invoicing Petition at 3 (requesting a nine month extension); NETC Extension and Invoicing
Petition at 1 (requesting a six month extension); OHN Extension Petition at 1 (requesting a six month extension);
UTN Extension Petition at 1 (requesting a four month extension).
59 ACTION Extension Petition at 1; ARCHIE Extension Petition at 1; ATN Extension Petition at 1; CTN Extension
and Invoicing Petition at 1; Geisinger Extension Petition at 1; GMTBI Extension Petition at 1; ITN Extension
Petition at 1; IHS Extension Petition at 1; IRHTP Extension Petition at 1; KBTN Extension Petition at 1; PBTBD
Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1; PSPN Extension Petition at 1; SWTAG Extension Petition at 1; THINC
Extension Petition at 1; VTN Extension and Invoicing Petition at 1; R-AHEC Extension and Invoicing Petition at 2;
AWPHD Extension Petition at 1; see also UMMC Extension Petition at 1 (no specific length of extension
requested).


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deployment of these projects, consistent with the sound and efficient administration of the Pilot Program.
As stated above, when the Bureau extended the Pilot Program in the 2010 Pilot Program Extension
Order
, it recognized the potential need to establish "milestones to determine whether projects are no
longer capable of continuing in the Pilot Program."60 As such, we find it is appropriate to condition this
waiver on Pilot Program participants either receiving at least one funding commitment letter or filing a
complete Form 466-A packet with USAC on or before June 30, 2011.61 By meeting this condition,
projects have demonstrated substantial progress toward network deployment by, for instance, securing
letters of agency from network participants and entering into at least one contract for service with a
selected vendor. In most cases, they have expended significant resources and time to perform these
actions. Further, by taking the steps to obtain a funding commitment letter, most notably the filing of the
Form 466-A packet, a Pilot Program project demonstrates its commitment to creating a cost-effective, yet
sustainable, broadband network.
15.
To date, 41 projects (or 66%) have received at least one funding commitment letter from
USAC. Several other projects have yet to receive a funding commitment letter from USAC, but have
made significant progress since the 2010 Pilot Program Extension Order and appear to be prepared to
submit their Form 466-A packet to USAC in the near term. By granting a one year extension to projects
that have received at least one funding commitment letter or filed a complete Form 466-A packet with
USAC by June 30, 2011, we seek to ensure that funds committed thus far for networks that are under
construction are not wasted.
16.
Projects failing to meet this condition of waiver will not benefit from the deadline
extension. Experience over the last three and a half years of the Pilot Program shows that, on average, it
takes approximately one year for projects to move from the start of the competitive bidding process (i.e.,
filing of the FCC Form 465) to the invoicing stage. Even greater periods of time are needed for
participants with multi-stage projects and those with numerous participating health care facilities. Thus,
even with a one year extension, it is unlikely that projects that have not received at least one funding
commitment letter or filed a completed Form 466-A package by June 30, 2011 will be able to meet the
deadline for requesting all of their funding commitment letters from USAC.
17.
Further, in the 2010 Pilot Program Extension Order, participants were previously
afforded an additional year, until June 30, 2011, to select a vendor and file their requests for funding with
USAC. As noted above, many participants took full advantage of the one year extension. We believe
that the 2010 Pilot Program Extension Order provided ample notice to participants that further extensions
of time would not be uniformly afforded, and that participants not awarded another extension must submit
all requests for funding by June 30, 2011 to be eligible for Pilot Program support.
18.
Accordingly, we extend the funding request filing deadline until June 30, 2012 for
participants who have received at least one funding commitment letter or filed a complete Form 466-A
packet with USAC by June 30, 2011. Pilot Program participants receiving a one year extension must file
all of their funding commitment requests (FCC Forms 466-A) for the second and third funding years of
the Pilot Program with USAC by June 30, 2012, to be eligible for Pilot Program universal service support


60 2010 Pilot Program Extension Order, 25 FCC Rcd at 1428, para. 9.
61 A complete Form 466-A packet consists of the (a) FCC Form 466-A, (b) FCC Form 466-A attachment, (3)
sustainability plan, (4) network cost worksheet, (5) vendor certification, (6) project certification, (7) competitive
bidding documentation, and (8) contract(s) signed by both the vendor and the participant. USAC will evaluate the
information submitted by each project to determine if it constitutes a complete Form 466-A package. For
participants to receive an extension, the Form 466-A package must be received by USAC or postmarked by June 30,
2011.


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DA 11-819

for such funding years. Participants who have not received a funding commitment letter or filed at least
one complete Form 466-A packet by June 30, 2011 will not be given additional time to request funding
from the Pilot Program.
19.
Invoicing Extension. We also conclude that it is in the public interest to provide Pilot
Program participants one additional year from the date of their initial funding commitment letter in which
they may submit invoices to USAC for reimbursement under the Pilot Program, thus allowing participants
to submit invoices for up to six years from the date of their first funding commitment letter. An
additional year should provide participants with sufficient time to overcome earlier project delays and
conclude the construction of their respective projects. We agree with petitioners that argue that a one year
extension of the invoicing deadline will not be overly burdensome for USAC or the Commission,
especially given the additional one year extension we are providing to permit some participants to seek
additional funding requests. We find that a one year extension will afford Pilot Program participants
additional time to complete the invoicing process, while minimizing the duration of a pilot that was only
intended to be in operation for three years.62
20.
We decline to permit Pilot Program participants to submit invoices to USAC beyond the
specified six-year period. Petitioners requesting an extension of time greater than one year in duration
have not demonstrated special circumstances warranting such an extension. Six years should be more
than ample time for participants to conclude their invoicing processes. Accordingly, we extend the
deadline for submitting invoices to USAC for reimbursement to allow each Pilot Program participant six
years from the date of its initial funding commitment letter to complete the invoicing process.
21.
Lastly, we find it unnecessary to extend the Pilot Program for an additional funding year
as requested by one party, because a one year extension of the funding year deadline accomplishes the
same purpose of allowing additional time for participants to submit a funding commitment request.63
22.
We conclude that participants who have received at least one funding commitment letter
or filed a complete Form 466-A package with USAC by June 30, 2011 will have one additional year to
file all of their funding commitment requests for the second and third funding years of the Pilot Program.
For participants receiving a one year extension, all funding commitment requests must be filed with
USAC by June 30, 2012, to be eligible for support for the second and third funding years of the Pilot
Program. Participants who have not received a funding commitment letter or filed at least one complete
Form 466-A packet with USAC by June 30, 2011 will not be given additional time beyond that date to
request Pilot Program funding. Finally, we also conclude that all Pilot Program participants will receive a
one year extension of the five-year invoicing deadline. Participants must submit all invoices to USAC
within six years of the date of their initial funding commitment letter.

IV.

ORDERING CLAUSES

23.
Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1-4
and 254 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-54, 254, and pursuant to
sections 0.91, 0.291 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 0.91, 0.291, 1.3 of the Commission's rules,
47 C.F.R. 1.3, and 54.623 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 54.623, the June 31, 2011 funding


62 With the extensions granted in this order, we anticipate that those projects that remain active would submit their
initial funding commitment requests by the June 30, 2011 deadline. Assuming those remaining projects receive
funding commitments in 2011, a six-year deadline to submit invoices would mean that those projects would be
submitting invoices up until 2017 more than a decade after the establishment of the three-year Pilot Program.
63 See SWTAG Petition at 1.


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request deadline, IS WAIVED as set forth above for the second and third funding years of the Pilot
Program to the extent described herein.
24.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1-4 and
254 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-54, 254, and pursuant to sections
0.91, 0.291 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 0.91, 0.291, and 1.3 of the Commission's rules, 47
C.F.R. 1.3, the five year invoicing request deadline for participants in the Pilot Program to submit
invoices to USAC IS WAIVED and extended to six years from the date of each respective project's initial
funding commitment letter.
25.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to the authority contained in sections 1-4 and
254 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151-54, 254, and pursuant to
authority delegated under sections 0.91, 0.291 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 0.91, 0.291, and
section 1.3 of the Commission's rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.3, the petitions for an extension of the time period
for Pilot Program participants to request funding commitments and submit invoices for reimbursement,
filed by the petitioners listed in Appendices A and B, ARE GRANTED to the extent specified herein.
26.
IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to section 1.102(b)(1) of the Commission's
rules, 47 C.F.R. 1.102(b)(1), this order SHALL BE EFFECTIVE upon release.
FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
Sharon E. Gillett
Chief
Wireline Competition Bureau


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DA 11-819

APPENDIX A

Petitioners Requesting Extension of June 30, 2011 Deadline Under the Rural Health Care Pilot Program

Petitioner

Date Filed

Length of Extension

Requested

Indiana Telehealth Network (ITN)
November 17, 2010
1 year
Western New York Rural Area Health
December 8, 2010
1 year
Education Center (Western NY R-AHEC)
Alaska e-Health Network (AeHN)
December 9, 2010
3 years
New England Telehealth Consortium (NETC)
December 9, 2010
6 months
Oregon Health Network (OHN)
December 14, 2010
6 months
Iowa Rural Health Telecommunications
December 21, 2010
1 year
Program (IRHTP)
Palmetto State Providers Network (PSPN)
December 21, 2010
1 year
Health Information Exchange of Montana
December 22, 2010
9 months
(HIEM)
Southwest Telehealth Access Grid (SWTAG)
December 22, 2010
1 year
Adirondack Champlain Telemedicine
January 4, 2011
1 year
Information Network (ACTION)
Arkansas Telehealth Network (ATN)
January 5, 2011
1 year
Kentucky Behavioral Telehealth Network
January 5, 2011
1 year
(KBTN)
Arizona Rural Community Health Information January 7, 2011
1 year
Exchange (ARCHIE)
Greater Minnesota Telehealth Broadband
January 7, 2011
1 year
Initiative (GMTBI)
Texas Health Information Network
January 7, 2011
1 year
Collaborative (THINC)
Virginia Telehealth Network (VTN)
January 7, 2011
1 year
California Telehealth Network (CTN)
January 18, 2011
1 year
Pacific Broadband Telehealth Demonstration
January 21, 2011
1 year
Project (PBTDP)
Geisinger Health System (Geisinger)
February 15, 2011
1 year
Iowa Health System (IHS)
February 18, 2011
1 year
Association of Washington Public Hospital
April 4, 2011
1 year
Districts
University of Mississippi Medical Center
March 7, 2011
No length specified
(UMMS)
(general)
Utah Telehealth Network
March 16, 2011
4 months


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DA 11-819

APPENDIX B

Petitioners Requesting Extension of the Five Year Invoicing Deadline Under the Rural Health Care Pilot
Program

Petitioner

Date Filed

Length of Extension

Requested

Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI)
November 17, 2010
15 months or 5 years from the
date of each funding
commitment letter (FCL)
Western New York Rural Area Health
December 8, 2010
5 years from the date of each
Education Center (Western NY R-AHEC)
FCL or 5 years from the date
each facility begins invoicing
New England Telehealth Consortium
December 9, 2010
1 year
(NETC)
Health Information Exchange of Montana
December 22, 2010
5 years from the date of each
(HIEM)
FCL
Kentucky Behavioral Telehealth Network
January 5, 2011
No length specified (general)
(KBTN)
Virginia Telehealth Network (VTN)
January 7, 2011
15 months or 5 years from the
date of each FCL
West Virginia Telehealth Alliance (WVTA)
January 7, 2011
15 months
Arkansas Telehealth Network (ATN)
January 5, 2011
3 years
Indiana Telehealth Network (ITN)
January 10, 2011
5 years from the date of each
FCL
California Telehealth Network (CTN)
January 14, 2011
1 year
Pacific Broadband Telehealth
January 21, 2011
1 year
Demonstration Project (PBTDP)

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