Comment Date: May 9, 2013

Reply Comment Date: May 20, 2013

The Wireline Competition Bureau is seeking comment on a petition filed by the United States Telecom Association (USTelecom) for reconsideration and clarification of the FCC’s recent Rural Health Care Support Mechanism Order. USTelecom has asked the FCC to reconsider the portion of the Order permitting health care providers (HCPs) to install and resell excess capacity, and to receive support for dark fiber.

Background – On December 21, 2012, the FCC released the Order implementing the new Healthcare Connect Fund. The fund provides a 65% discount on eligible expenses for broadband connectivity for rural health care providers and consortia of rural and non-rural health care providers (as long as the consortia have a majority of rural sites). The filing window for the new program opens this summer and funding begins January 1, 2014.

Comments Sought – In addition to seeking comment on USTelecom’s request for reconsideration and clarification of the portion of the Order allowing HCPs to install and resell excess capacity and receive support for dark fiber, the Bureau also seeks comment on requests for clarification of the following:

  • That enforcement actions which seek recovery for violations of the rural health care programs are only directed at the responsible parties;
  • Whether it would violate the competitive bidding rules of the rural health care program for a service provider to provide gifts to applicants;
  • The broadband metrics reporting requirements for service providers;
  • Certification and invoicing requirements, such as the time frame within which a health care provider must submit its invoices to service providers.