November 2, 2020

Coming Soon: A New Industry Intelligence!

Editor’s Note: Within the next several weeks, Industry Intelligence will be undergoing an overhaul.

We hope these changes will provide more relevant content with the same UTC focus.

We are in the final stages of mapping out the new newsletter so stay tuned for more over the coming weeks!

–The UTC Industry Intelligence Team

Power Restored to 92% of Customers Impacted by Hurricane Zeta

Electricity has been restored to more than 92% of those impacted last week by Hurricane Zeta as electric utility workers—and the nation—hope for the end of a near record-breaking year for hurricanes.

According to industry estimates, by Sunday evening, 240,700 customers in the Southeast remained without electricity due to Hurricane Zeta, which made landfall in Louisiana on Oct. 29.

At its peak, the hurricane knocked out 3.1 million customers in Louisiana, Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, North and South Carolina, and Virginia. By Sunday, Nov. 1, power was restored to more than 2.8 million customers.

Meanwhile, electricity crews in Texas and Oklahoma reported restoring nearly 65% of those impacted by a significant ice storm last week as well.

Industry reports estimate that more than 23,000 workers from 23 states and Canada have assisted in the restoration of electricity from both weather events.

Utilities are urging customers to remain patient and to give their crews the needed space to work safely amid the damage and the ongoing pandemic.

UTC sends its thanks and gratitude to all of our members impacted by the storms and those working as quickly and safely as possible to restore service.

FCC Officially Kicks Off First Round of Rural Broadband Auction

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) last week officially launched the start of bidding in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) Phase I auction, which will target up to $16 billion to deploy networks to serve up to 10.25 million Americans that currently lack access to fixed broadband service meeting the Commission’s benchmark speeds.

Numerous UTC members have qualified for the auction, which the FCC says has attracted significant interest, with 386 providers qualified to bid, representing a more than 75% increase over the number that qualified for the Commission’s successful 2018 Connect America Phase II auction (Industry Intelligence, Oct. 19, 2020).

Among the qualified UTC members are utilities such as Bandera Electric Cooperative, Blue Ridge Mountain EMC, and a group of utilities who bid in as part of several consortia. In addition, associate member Tilson qualified for the bidding as well.

Eligibility for participation is technologically neutral and open to new providers, and the bidding procedures prioritize bids for higher speeds (up to 1 Gbps).

According to the FCC, the auction will proceed using a multi-round, descending clock auction format in which bidders will indicate in each round whether they will bid to provide service to an area at a given performance tier and latency at the current round’s support amount. The auction will end after the aggregate support amount of all bids is less than or equal to the total $16 billion budget and competition for support in any given area no longer exists.

Additional information about the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I (Auction 904) can be found at https://www.fcc.gov/auction/904.

FCC Establishes 5G Fund for Rural America

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) last week adopted rules creating the 5G Fund for Rural America, which it says will distribute up to $9 billion over the next decade to bring 5G wireless broadband connectivity to rural America. 5G represents the latest advance in mobile wireless technology.

According to the FCC, the 5G Fund will use multi-round reverse auctions in two phases to target support from the Commission’s Universal Service Fund to eligible areas based upon the improved mobile broadband coverage data gathered in the Commission’s Digital Opportunity Data Collection proceeding.

Phase I of the 5G Fund will target up to $8 billion of support nationwide to areas lacking unsubsidized 4G LTE or 5G mobile broadband, with $680 million specifically set aside for bidders offering to serve Tribal lands. Phase II will provide at least an additional $1 billion, along with any unawarded funds from Phase I, to specifically target the deployment of technologically innovative 5G networks that facilitate precision agriculture.

The order requires 5G Fund winning bidders to deploy networks providing 5G mobile broadband at speeds of a least 35/3 Mbps and meet interim deployment milestones beginning at the three-year mark and a final deployment milestone at the end of the sixth year. Moreover, starting next year, carriers receiving legacy mobile high cost support must begin spending an increasing portion of their $368 million in support to bring 5G to rural, high cost areas.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

UTC Calendar of Events

Regional Meetings—All Virtual

Webinars

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

Committee/Division calls

  • Nov. 10: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Nov. 10: Knowledge & Learning Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • NOTE NEW DATE! Nov. 16: Security, Risk, & Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Nov. 17: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Nov. 18: IT/OT Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Nov. 19: Public Policy Division Call–For more information, contact Rob Thormeyer
  • Nov. 19: Telecom Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne