October 19, 2020

Nearly 400 Qualify for FCC’s Rural Broadband Auction

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) last week unveiled a list of 386 applicants, including several UTC members, that are qualified to bid in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase I auction.

In a Public Notice, the Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force, Office of Economics and Analytics, and Wireline Competition Bureau identified the qualified applicants and provided educational materials for participating in the auction.

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.

According to the Commission, the number of qualified bidders represents a more than 75% increase in the number of bidders in the FCC’s 2018 Connect America Fund Phase II auction and also includes bidding consortia that contain multiple service providers. Qualified bidders will compete to receive up to $16 billion over ten years to provide broadband to wholly unserved areas, with priority given to bids for higher speeds (up to 1 Gbps) and lower latency.

Last week the FCC released the state-by-state list of areas eligible for bidding in the Phase I auction, which will prioritize bids for the deployment of broadband networks providing higher speeds up to 1 Gbps and lower latency. Once the auction concludes, the Commission will release the auction results, including identifying which bidders won support and which areas were awarded.

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with questions.

In Meetings, Utilities Press FCC Against Cable Cost-Shifting Poles Petition

UTC and utility organizations urged members of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC, the Commission) to deny a recent cable-industry petition to change decades of established pole-attachment policies and shift pole costs to utility customers.

In a series of meetings with FCC staff, UTC, the Edison Electric Institute and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association reiterated the electric industry’s commitment to broadband deployment and noted that the cable industry petition would actually stifle broadband expansion.

The meetings were held in response to a cable industry petition, which wants the FCC to require that utility pole owners, in locations unserved by broadband, should at least pay half of the costs of replacing poles that are needed to deploy new broadband connectivity services. The cable industry also wants the agency to expedite pole-attachment complaints in unserved areas, and direct pole owners to replace poles within a specific time period (Industry Intelligence, July 27, 2020).

UTC and the utility groups said the existing FCC policies provide utilities just compensation for their administrative costs. The cable petition—offered by their trade association NTCA—would shift these costs and undermine the agency’s rates by denying utilities fair compensation.

“The NCTA Petition relies on numerous faulty premises, not the least of which is that pole replacements necessitated by insufficient capacity are less likely to occur in unserved areas given the lack of deployment by broadband providers, and there is no evidence of widespread disputes in such areas,” the groups added. “We also explained that utilities do not fully recover from electricity customers the costs associated with make-ready work, including pole replacements.”

Please contact the UTC Public Policy Team with any questions.

ADSS REPORT FREE FOR UTC MEMBERS!

The UTC Fiber Subcommittee studied the life cycle of All Dielectric Self-Supporting (ADSS) cable during 2019, following members’ requests to understand characteristics of utilities’ ADSS deployments. Our members were especially interested to understand the major causes of ADSS failures and signal degradation. The subcommittee prepared and administered a survey to the UTC members about their ADSS deployments, practices and policies.

The data was analyzed, and the report written by eleven UTC member companies, including utilities and technology suppliers. The report examines causes of ADSS failures and signal attenuation, including:

  • Accidents and Vandalism
  • Environmental Issues
  • Installation and Material
  • Tracking

The report explains why age of the ADSS is not a significant contributor to either cable failure or signal loss.
The UTC ADSS research report is aimed at utilities that have ADSS installed and want to understand the key factors in determining ADSS service life, and at technology suppliers who want to understand how utilities think about their ADSS life cycle.

The report is available on the UTC website.

UTC Calendar of Events

Regional Meetings—All Virtual

Webinars

Calendar of UTC committee/division conference calls

Committee/Division calls

  • Oct. 20: Utilities Broadband Committee Call—For more information, contact Brett Kilbourne
  • Nov. 10: UtiliSite Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Nov. 10: Knowledge & Learning Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • Nov. 16: Security, Risk, & Compliance Committee Call—For more information, contact Bob Lockhart
  • 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