On Nov. 22nd, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau issued a Public Notice describing the requirement that ETCs who do not want to provide Lifeline-supported broadband internet access services (now known as “BIAS”) file a notice with the FCC.
As we have previously described, when the FCC changed its rules in the Lifeline Modernization Order to provide Lifeline support for broadband services, it waived the requirement that Lifeline-only ETCs provide broadband services. It also waived the requirement for High Cost ETCs in areas where they do not receive high-cost support or do not commercially offer broadband services that meet the Lifeline minimum service standards. The waiver—for forbearance in FCC parlance—is not automatic, however. The Public Notice explains that ETCs that wish to take advantage of the waiver must file a notice with the FCC. ETCs that do not file the notice, must begin offering broadband services throughout their service territory that meet the new minimum service standards beginning Dec. 2, 2016.
The notice must include the following information: the ETC’s name, information about the ETC's designation order such as service territory, Census blocks, groups or tracts where the ETC seeks a waiver from the broadband service obligation, and information about where the ETC plans to offer broadband services in the future. If the ETC is requesting the waiver on the basis of a change in its high-cost support, it must also provide the date of such changes and the reason why the change justifies the waiver.
Importantly, any Lifeline-only ETC or high-cost ETC that seeks to be relieved of the Lifeline broadband service requirement must submit a notification to the FCC by the later of Dec. 2, 2016, or within 30 days of receiving its ETC designation or a qualifying change to their high-cost support for a specific area.