Frontier’s supplemental CAF-II funding request faces protests from Comcast, Charter

Frontier Communications (Frontier Communications)

Frontier’s request to the FCC to modify its CAF-II phase one incremental broadband deployment plans is facing a protest from Charter and Comcast, who said that the telco is asking for funds to build out broadband in areas they already serve.

Frontier initially accepted $283 million annually in CAF II support from the FCC to deploy broadband to more than 650,000 high-cost rural locations throughout its current 28-state service area.

RELATED: Frontier takes $283M in Connect America Funding to bring broadband to 650,000 unserved sites

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In August, Frontier submitted a list of 3,146 census blocks that it had not previously identified with its initial election. It now intends to serve those locations using Phase I incremental support.

At issue are rules developed by the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau. They require that any service provider who wants subsidies to provide broadband services must complete the required certifications, and the “location in question must be eligible at the time."

Charter, which entered into a number of new markets to compete with Frontier and others via its acquisition of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Communications, said in a response filing (PDF) it already offers internet speeds that exceed 3 Mbps/768 Kbps in 126 of the census blocks designated by Frontier.

The cable MSO said that it “believes that the census blocks in Exhibit A are already served by an unsubsidized competitor, and thus not eligible for Phase I support.”

Comcast cited a similar situation. The cable MSO said that in 19 of the census blocks Frontier had identified, it “already provides broadband service at speeds exceeding 3 Mbps downstream and 768 kbps upstream as of June 2016.”

“Since Frontier now has knowledge of Comcast’s FCC Form 477 filing, Frontier simply cannot certify that “to the best of the carrier’s knowledge, the locations are, in fact, unserved by fixed internet access” with the requisite speeds, Comcast said in its response (PDF) to Frontier’s request. “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 funding.”

Peter DePasquale, a Frontier spokesman, told FierceTelecom in an e-mail that the service provider is still looking at Charter and Comcast's argument. 

“In connection with the CAF program, Frontier recently sought permission to serve several thousand census blocks that, according to our data and FCC records, are unserved," said DePasquale. "We are reviewing Comcast and Charter’s claims that they currently serve a very small percentage of those census blocks.”

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