CenturyLink has requested to modify its CAF-II incremental broadband deployment plans, but the request was met with protest from Comcast and Charter Communications, claiming that the Telco needs funds to build out 10/1 Mbps broadband in areas where they already serve.
Initially, CenturyLink accepted 500 million dollars in the second phase of FCC’s Connect America Fund (CAF-II), enabling them to deliver broadband services to almost 1.2 million rural households and businesses in 33 states. Moreover, in the month of September, CenturyLink submitted a list of 9,703 blocks to FCC that they had not identified earlier with their CAF-II election. It seems as if they are not intending to serve these locations making use of incremental support.
As per the rules that are set by FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau, any of the telecom service providers who wish to have subsidies to provide broadband services will need to complete the necessary certification and “location in question must be eligible at the time.” Apart from that, the other service providers are given forty-five days to show that they have already served the identified blocks. So, CenturyLink is liable to certify to the best of their knowledge that the locations that they plan to serve are un-served before they start construction.
It is well known how Charter Communications expanded their network footprint after the acquisition of Bright House Communications and Time Warner Cable. Their response filing said that they already offer 3 Mbps/768 Kbps speeds in 356 of the blocks that were newly designated by CenturyLink in their report. Charter said in their filing that, they “believe that the census blocks in Exhibit A are already served by an unsubsidized competitor, and thus not eligible for Phase I support.”
Comcast is also challenging 338 census blocks that CenturyLink seeks to serve as part of CAF-II program. In a filing, Comcast said that they offer internet speeds over 3 Mbps/768 Kbps in the blocks. “Since CenturyLink now has knowledge of Comcast’s FCC Form 477 filing, CenturyLink simply cannot certify that ‘to the best of [its] knowledge, the locations are, in fact, un-served by fixed Internet access’ with the requisite speeds,” Comcast said in its response filing.
“To the contrary, Comcast has demonstrated through its FCC Form 477 submission that these areas are served by an unsubsidized competitor and therefore should not be eligible for CAF Phase I (Round 2) funding,” the filing adds. However, reports say that CenturyLink is not the only Telco that faces challenge from Comcast and Charter. Frontier Communications’ CAF-II request is also facing similar issues.