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ETC Designation for Participation in Mobility Fund Phase I

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Released: February 24, 2012


Federal Communications Commission

News Media Information 202 / 418-0500
445 12th St., S.W.
Fax-On-Demand 202 / 418-2830
TTY 202 / 418-2555

Washington, D.C. 20554


DA 12-271

Release Date: February 24, 2012

Eligible Telecommunications Carrier Designation for Participation in

Mobility Fund Phase I

WC Docket No. 09-197; WT Docket No. 10-208; AU Docket No. 12-25

1. Prior to filing an application, any party that wishes to participate in Auction 901 for Connect
America Fund (CAF) Mobility Fund Phase I support must be designated as an eligible
telecommunications carrier (ETC) in any geographic area for which it seeks such support, with one
exception for Tribal entities.1 Interested parties should ascertain whether they have the necessary ETC
designation or need to seek such designation. Common carriers subject to the jurisdiction of a state in
which they seek designation should petition that state’s commission for designation as an ETC to provide
voice service.2 Common carriers not subject to the jurisdiction of the relevant state commission should
petition the Federal Communications Commission (Commission) for designation as an ETC.3 By this
Public Notice, the Wireless Telecommunications and Wireline Competition Bureaus (the Bureaus)
describe the process for parties not already having the necessary ETC designation to petition the
Commission for designation in order to participate in Auction 901.4
2. Auction 901 is scheduled to begin on September 27, 2012.5 Any party that wishes to
participate in Auction 901 with respect to an area for which it is not already designated an ETC should
initiate the designation process as soon as possible to increase the likelihood that the process will be
completed prior to the deadline for submitting an application for Auction 901. The deadline for
applications to participate in Auction 901 will be set when the Bureaus release a public notice announcing

1 47 C.F.R. § 54.1005(a)(3). Under the exception, a Tribally-owned or controlled entity may participate with respect
to its Tribal lands if, prior to filing an application, it has a pending petition but has not yet been designated as an
ETC for the relevant Tribal lands. 47 C.F.R. § 54.1004(a). An entity covered by this exception must be designated
as an ETC before it may receive Mobility Fund Phase I support. Id. See also Mobility Fund Phase I Auction
Scheduled for September 27, 2012, Comment Sought on Competitive Bidding Procedures for Auction 901 and
Certain Program Requirements, AU Docket No. 12-25
, Public Notice, DA 12-121, para. 7 (rel. Feb. 2, 2012)
(Auction 901 Comment PN). A summary of the Auction 901 Comment Public Notice was published in the Federal
Register at 77 Fed. Reg. 7152 (Feb. 10, 2012).
2 47 U.S.C. § 214(e)(2). See also 47 C.F.R. § 54.101 (establishing voice telephony service as the supported service
and requiring that an ETC must offer such service to receive universal service support).
3 47 U.S.C. § 214(e)(6).
4 See 47 C.F.R. § 54.202. See also Auction 901 Comment PN, para. 7 n.7 (describing the anticipated release of this
Public Notice).
5 Auction 901 Comment PN.

procedures for the auction. Auction applications in spectrum license auctions typically must be filed two
to three months prior to the start of an auction.
3. This Public Notice describes the Commission’s ETC designation process, including the
requirements for seeking ETC designation from the Commission.6 We provide this information now to
facilitate petitions by any party wishing to seek designation as an ETC prior to applying for Auction 901.
A party’s designation as an ETC may be conditioned upon the party winning support from the Mobility
Fund in Auction 901.7 As stated above, a current ETC that meets all other applicable requirements may
participate in Auction 901 with respect to areas within its current ETC service area without petitioning for
any change to its ETC status.
4. Auction 901 will offer up to $300 million in one-time Mobility Fund Phase I support to
carriers that commit to provide 3G or better mobile voice and broadband services in areas where such
services are unavailable. A winning bidder will be required either to deploy services meeting the
Commission’s requirements for 3G service within two years or 4G service within three years after the
date on which it is authorized to receive support, and will be subject to other obligations, including
coverage and voice and data roaming requirements. These obligations will apply to the areas eligible for
Mobility Fund Phase I support covered by any specific winning bid. In addition, to be eligible to receive
Mobility Fund Phase I support for any geographic area, a party must be an ETC and have access to
spectrum in that area. For more specific information, please refer to the USF/ICC Transformation Order
and the Auction 901 Comment PN.8
5. The Communications Act provides that only designated ETCs are eligible to receive
universal service support.9 A party that seeks an ETC designation from the Commission must certify
compliance with certain threshold conditions in order for its petition to be considered. More specifically,
an ETC petition to the Commission must contain the following: (1) a certification and brief statement of
supporting facts demonstrating that the petitioner is not subject to the jurisdiction of a state commission;10
(2) a certification that the petitioner offers or intends to offer all services designated for support by the
Commission pursuant to section 254(c);11 (3) a certification that the petitioner offers or intends to offer

6 Section 54.202(c) of the Commission’s rules requires a common carrier seeking designation by the Commission
for any part of Tribal lands to “provide a copy of its petition to the affected tribal government and tribal regulatory
authority, as applicable, at the time it files its petition with the Commission.” 47 C.F.R. § 54.202(c).
7 47 C.F.R. § 54.1003(a).
8 Connect America Fund, A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, Establishing Just and Reasonable Rates for
Local Exchange Carriers, High-Cost Universal Service Support, Developing an Unified Intercarrier Compensation
Regime, Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, Lifeline and Link-Up, Universal Service Reform – Mobility
, WC Docket No. 10-90, GN Docket No. 09-51, WC Docket No. 07-135, WC Docket No. 05-337, CC Docket
No. 01-92, CC Docket No. 96-45, WC Docket No. 03-109, WT Docket No. 10-208, Report and Order and Further
Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 11-161 (rel. Nov. 18, 2011) (USF/ICC Transformation Order), pets. for
review pending, Connect America Fund et al., 77 Fed. Reg. 3635 (Jan. 25, 2012) (providing public notice of the
petitions for reconsideration)
. The Commission will address pending petitions for reconsideration of certain aspects
of the USF/ICC Transformation Order in due course. Nothing in this Public Notice is intended to prejudge
Commission action with respect to the petitions for reconsideration.
9 47 U.S.C. § 254(e).
10 47 U.S.C. § 214(e)(6).
11 47 U.S.C. § 214(e)(1)(A). In particular, revised section 54.101currently states: “Services designated for support.
Voice Telephony services shall be supported by federal universal service support mechanisms. Eligible voice

the supported services “either using its own facilities or a combination of its own facilities and resale of
another carrier's services;”12 (4) a description of how the petitioner “advertise[s] the availability of
[supported] services and the charges therefore using media of general distribution;”13 and (5) a detailed
description of the geographic service area for which the petitioner requests an ETC designation from the
Commission.14 Petitioners also must certify that neither the petitioner nor any party to the application is
subject to a denial of federal benefits, including Commission benefits, pursuant to section 5301 of the
Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1988, as implemented in section 1.2002 of the Commission’s rules.15
6. ETCs must satisfy various service obligations, consistent with the public interest.16 A party
petitioning for designation as an ETC therefore must also: (1) certify that it will comply with the service
requirements applicable to the support that it receives;17 (2) submit a five-year plan that describes with
specificity proposed improvements or upgrades to the applicant's network throughout its proposed service
area, with an estimate of the area and population that will be served as a result of the improvements;18

telephony services must provide voice grade access to the public switched network or its functional equivalent;
minutes of use for local service provided at no additional charge to end users; access to the emergency services
provided by local government or other public safety organizations, such as 911 and enhanced 911, to the extent the
local government in an eligible carrier’s service area has implemented 911 or enhanced 911 systems; and toll
limitation services for qualifying low-income consumers (as described in subpart E of this part.)” Connect America
Fund, A National Broadband Plan for Our Future, Establishing Just and Reasonable Rates for Local Exchange
Carriers, High-Cost Universal Service Support, Developing an Unified Intercarrier Compensation Regime,
Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service, Lifeline and Link-Up, Universal Service Reform – Mobility Fund
WC Docket No. 10-90, GN Docket No. 09-51, WC Docket No. 07-135, WC Docket No. 05-337, CC Docket No.
01-92, CC Docket No. 96-45, WC Docket No. 03-109, WT Docket No. 10-208, Order on Reconsideration, FCC 11-
189, para. 3 (rel. Dec. 23, 2011). We note that in the recent Lifeline Reform Order, the Commission further
amended section 54.101 to specify that toll limitation services for low-income services shall be provided as set forth
in newly revised § 54.401(a)(1) and subject to the limitations set forth in newly revised § 54.403(c). In particular,
ETCs are not required to offer toll limitation service to low-income consumers if the Lifeline offering provides a set
amount of minutes that do not distinguish between toll and non-toll calls. Advancing Broadband Availability
Through Digital Literacy Training
, WC Docket No. 12-23, Lifeline and Link Up Reform and Modernization, WC
Docket No. 11-42, Lifeline and Link Up, WC Docket No. 03-109, Federal-State Joint Board on Universal Service,
CC Docket No. 96-45, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, FCC 12-11, paras. 49, 230
(rel. Feb. 6, 2012) (Lifeline Reform Order). Those new requirements will become effective 30 days after Federal
Register publication of the Lifeline Reform Order.
12 47 U.S.C. § 214(e)(1)(A).
13 47 U.S.C. § 214(e)(1)(B). 47 C.F.R. §§ 54.401 et seq. In addition, an ETC must advertise the availability of
Lifeline service and, if eligible for such support, Link Up, in a manner reasonably designed to reach those likely to
qualify for those services. We note that in the recent Lifeline Reform Order, the Commission eliminated Link Up
except for carriers that receive high-cost support on Tribal lands. Lifeline Reform Order at para. 254.
14 Section 54.207(d) of the Commission’s rules specifies the procedures for the Commission, on its own motion, to
initiate a proceeding to define a service area that is different from that of the incumbent telephone company, where
the incumbent provider is a rural telephone company as that term is defined in 47 U.S.C. §153(37). See 47 C.F.R. §
15 47 C.F.R. § 1.2002.
16 See USF/ICC Transformation Order, para. 390 (retaining existing ETC requirements and obligations for parties
seeking Mobility Fund support).
17 47 C.F.R. § 54.202(a)(1)(i).
18 47 C.F.R. § 54.202(a)(1)(ii).

(3) demonstrate how it will remain functional in emergency situations;19 and (4) demonstrate that it will
satisfy consumer protection and service quality standards.20
7. Certain additional requirements apply for parties seeking ETC designation for a service area
that includes an area served by a rural telephone company. The Communications Act provides in such
cases that “service area” means the rural telephone company’s “study area” “unless and until the
Commission and the States, after taking into account recommendations of a Federal-State Joint Board
instituted under section 410(c), establish a different definition of service area for such company.”21 The
Commission has interpreted this statutory provision as requiring approval of the proposed redefinition by
both the relevant State and the Commission. Accordingly, a petitioner seeking designation for a “service
area” that includes, but is not the same as, a rural telephone company’s service area must request
redefinition from this Commission, which, under our rules, would then seek agreement from the state
commission with jurisdiction over the rural telephone company, even if the petitioner itself is not subject
to that state commission’s jurisdiction.22
8. Pleading Cycle. Consistent with existing Commission procedures regarding designation of
eligible telecommunications carriers, upon receipt of a petition for designation pursuant to section
214(e)(6) in connection with Phase I of the Mobility Fund, the Commission will issue a public notice
establishing a pleading cycle.23
9. Filings. All petitions to be designated an ETC must reference

WC Docket No. 09-197

. In
addition, petitions to be designated for purposes of participation in Auction 901 must reference

Docket No. 10-208 and AU Docket No. 12-25

. Petitions may be filed using the Commission’s
Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) or by filing paper copies.24
Electronic Filers: Petitions may be filed electronically using the Internet by accessing the ECFS:
Paper Filers: Parties who choose to file by paper must file an original and one copy of each
filing. If more than one docket or rulemaking number appears in the caption of this proceeding,
filers must submit two additional copies for each additional docket or rulemaking number.

19 In particular, the petition must include a demonstration that it has a reasonable amount of back-up power to ensure
functionality without an external power source, is able to reroute traffic around damaged facilities, and is capable of
managing traffic spikes resulting from emergency situations. See 47 C.F.R. § 54.202(a)(2).
20 In particular, “[a] commitment by wireless applicants to comply with the Cellular Telecommunications and
Internet Association's Consumer Code for Wireless Service will satisfy this requirement.” 47 C.F.R. §54.202(a)(3).
21 47 U.S.C. § 214(e)(5).
22 47 C.F.R. § 54.207. We note that in other contexts the Commission has forborne from the service area
redefinition process for some Lifeline-only ETCs. NTCH, Inc. Petition for Forbearance; Cricket Communications,
Inc. Petition for Forbearance,
WC Docket No. 09-197, Order, 26 FCC Rcd 13723 (2011).
23 See Procedures for FCC Designation of Eligible Telecommunications Carriers Pursuant to Section 214(e)(6) of
the Communications Act
, Public Notice, CC Docket No. 96-45, 12 FCC Rcd 22947, 22948 (1997).
24 See Electronic Filing of Documents in Rulemaking Proceedings, GC Docket No. 97-113, Report and Order, 13
FCC Rcd 11322 (1998).

Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-
class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail. All filings must be addressed to the Commission’s
Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
All hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission’s Secretary must be
delivered to FCC Headquarters at 445 12th St., SW, Room TW-A325, Washington, D.C. 20554.
All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be
disposed of before entering the building. The filing hours are 8:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Commercial
overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to
9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743. U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express,
and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street, S.W., Washington D.C. 20554.
People with Disabilities: To request materials in accessible formats (Braille, large print,
electronic files, audio format) for people with disabilities, send an e-mail to or
call the Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau at (202) 418-0530 or (202) 418-0432 (TTY).
10. Additional Filings. In addition:
One copy of each petition must be sent to the Commission’s duplicating contractor, Best Copy
and Printing, Inc., 445 12th Street, S.W., Room CY-B402, Washington, D.C. 20554,; phone: (202) 488-5300 fax: (202) 488-5563;
The Bureaus also request that a copy of any petition submitted electronically also be sent to the
following email address:
11. Filings are also available for public inspection and copying during regular business hours at
the FCC Reference Information Center, Portals II, 445 12th Street, S.W., Room CY-A257, Washington,
D.C. 20554. They may also be purchased from the Commission’s duplicating contractor, Best Copy and
Printing, Inc., Portals II, 445 12th Street, S.W., Room CY-B402, Washington, D.C. 20554, telephone:
(202) 488-5300, fax: (202) 488-5563, or via e-mail
12. For further information concerning the Auction 901, please contact Erik Salovaara, Wireless
Telecommunications Bureau, at (202) 418-0660.
- FCC -

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