On June 8, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau released an updated list of census blocks for which price cap carriers will receive model-based Connect America Fund (CAF) Phase II support under the price cap state-wide support mechanism. Although this new list does not directly apply to the upcoming CAF Phase II auction, it represents a step forward in that it reflects the full list of census blocks that are not eligible for inclusion in the Phase II auction because they have been claimed by price cap carriers.

The Bureau’s public notice lists the categories of census blocks that have been removed from this list of ineligible census blocks. Thus, it shines a light on the types of new blocks that will be included in the auction, but not the specific list of census blocks. That list will be released some time at least three months prior to the deadline for initial auction bids.

Most significantly, the new list removes census blocks in states where price cap carriers have declined model-based support. With the exception of New York 1, the census blocks in each of these service territories will be available for inclusion in the Phase II auction:

Price Cap Carrier

Service Territory Removed from List (i.e. now available for the CAF Phase II auction)

Verizon

Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia

AT&T

Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma

CenturyLink

California, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Wyoming

FairPoint

Colorado, Kansas

Windstream

New Mexico

In addition, census blocks that price cap carriers do not intend to serve (pursuant to the requirement that price cap carriers need only serve 95 percent of the blocks in the territory for which they accept state-wide support) have been removed from the new list, meaning that they will be available for bidding in the Phase II auction.

The Bureau has asked for information on several remaining questions regarding the status of certain census blocks under CAF Phase II. Most notably, the Bureau requires price cap and rate of return carriers to provide the following information:

  • Price cap carriers must identify any extremely high-cost census blocks that they intend to serve as part of their statewide obligation.
  • Rate-of-return carriers must identify census blocks that they do not intend to serve. These blocks, once identified, will be included on the list of census blocks eligible for the CAF Phase II auction.

This information is due by July 7, 2017. Other interested parties may also file comments regarding any of the Bureau’s actions described in the public notice.

We will continue to provide in-depth analysis of the CAF Phase II program as well as the next steps for providers seeking to participate in the CAF Phase II auction as more details become available.