COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. DBA GEOLINKS
California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) submits these Comments on the Public Notice, seeking input on proposed pre-auction and bidding processes proposed for Phase I of the upcoming Rural Digital Opportunity (“RDOF”) reverse auction.
INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY
GeoLinks is one of the fastest growing Internet and phone providers in America and the #1 fastest growing fixed wireless service provider in California. While the Company had previously focused on business and enterprise customers, in 2016, GeoLinks began expanding its customer base to include unserved and underserved areas throughout California and beyond. GeoLinks was the largest construction grant winner for California K-12 schools and libraries in 2016 and 2017, providing highspeed broadband to rural school districts and surrounding communities throughout the state that previously had not had access to any high-speed broadband service. In 2019, GeoLinks was awarded Connect America Fund Phase II (“CAF”) Auction funding to connect more than 11,000 unserved locations making it the largest CAF winner in California and the fifth largest overall.
GeoLinks largely supports the pre-auction and bidding procedures and processes for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (“RDOF”) proposed in the Public Notice and believes they strike the right balance to ensure a fair and successful auction. However, GeoLinks believes that some of the proposals set forth in the Public Notice risk allowing certain bidders to participate that should either be limited in what tiers they can bid or excluded from the auction all together. GeoLinks provides these comments to provide input into the Commission’s proposed RDOF pre-auction and bidding processes.
The Commission Should Limit Satellite Providers and Those That Have Never Filed a Form 477 From Bidding Gigabit and Above Baseline Performance Tiers
In the Public Notice, the FCC proposes to limit “geostationary satellite providers from bidding in the Gigabit and Above Baseline performance tiers.” In doing so, the Commission explains that there is “no evidence that geostationary satellite providers already offer service that meets all the requirements for these performance tiers.” As the Commission notes, satellite technologies generally cannot achieve speeds of at least 100/20 (noting that the only satellite provider that has reported via its Form 477 that it can offer 100 Mbps of downstream service only bid at the 10/1 and 25/3 speed tiers in the CAF auction). For this reason, it makes sense to limit these service providers from bidding in the Gigabit and Above Baseline performance tiers because there is no reported basis for believing the technology could achieve Gigabit and Above Baseline speeds. Therefore, GeoLinks supports this proposed limitation. In addition, GeoLinks urges the Commission to extend this limitation to low-earth orbit satellite service, as well. Similar to other satellite providers, to the best of GeoLinks knowledge, there are no Form 477 filings to show that any low-earth orbit satellite operators have successfully offered Gigabit or Above Baseline speeds. For the same reasons the Commission seeks to limit geostationary satellite providers from bidding the higher speed tiers, GeoLinks asserts that low-earth orbit satellite service should be limited, as well.
Along this vein, GeoLinks urges the Commission to implement one additional limitation in the RDOF auction. GeoLinks asserts that the Commission should exclude service providers that have never filed a Form 477 from bidding the Gigabit and Above Baseline speed tiers. Only service providers with a track record for providing broadband service (and for complying with regulatory reporting requirements) understand the rigors associated with designing, deploying, and supporting high-speed broadband networks. Limiting participation at these tier levels to only providers who have previously filed Form 477s will protect RDOF funding and save Commission resources by weeding out companies that may not be able to meet the rigors of the long form application process before they take part in the auction.
DOF Rules Must Prohibit Service Providers from “Double Dipping”
In addition to the above, the Commission should also be asking whether certain providers should be prohibited for another very important reason – if they have already received some incentive from the Commission to deploy high-speed broadband facilities to serve the areas eligible for RDOF funding (i.e. double dipping). Specifically, GeoLinks believes that service providers that have received spectrum rights, deployment rights, merger approval, etc. from the Commission contingent upon buildout obligations that overlap with RDOF funding areas should not be eligible for grant funding for those areas.
GeoLinks uses SpaceX as its prime example. SpaceX has been an active participant in the RDOF proceeding, undoubtedly with the goal of being able to participate in the auction. However, SpaceX has already received hefty spectrum rights and operating authority from the Commission for extensive satellite deployments that will purportedly result in global broadband deployment. Because these would presumably be the same satellites that SpaceX would use for any RDOF-related services, allowing SpaceX to participate in RDOF for the same deployment would essentially allow it to “double dip” from the Commission, resulting in wasteful use of limited RDOF funding.
In 2018, the Commission granted SpaceX authorization to “construct, deploy, and operate” its proposed satellite system, “comprising 4,425 satellites for the provision of fixed-satellite service (FSS) around the world” and the rights to do so over certain spectrum within the Ku- and Ka-band frequencies. In exchange for these rights and authorizations, the Commission mandated that SpaceX meet certain conditions related to, among other things, deployment milestone and geographic coverage requirements. Specifically, the Commission’s rules require SpaceX to launch and operate “50 percent of the total number of satellites in the constellation” no later than 6 years after grant of the authorization” and “to provide service coverage to (i) all locations as far north as 70 degrees latitude and as far south at 55 degrees latitude for at least 75% of ever 24-hour period and (ii) on a continuous basis through the fifty states, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.”
SpaceX has made clear that by utilizing the authorizations and rights already granted by the Commission, it will launch thousands of satellites and “once fully deployed,” will “provide full time coverage to virtually the entire planet.” Moreover, SpaceX has repeatedly explained to the Commission that it is already actively deploying its satellites. SpaceX’s commitments were all made without the promise of RDOF funding. In fact, these commitments were all made before the RDOF auction was even contemplated. SpaceX should not now be permitted to seek RDOF funding to complete commitments it has already made to the Commission.
GeoLinks urges the Commission to craft its rules in a way that protects RDOF funding from would-be bidders that seek to subsidize broadband infrastructure that they have already made commitments to the Commission to deploy in exchange for something of value (i.e. operating authority, merger approval, usage rights, etc.). While GeoLinks does not oppose making RDOF funding available for service providers proposing new projects in RDOF-eligible areas (separate and apart from any previously made commitments), GeoLinks believes that allowing service providers to apply for RDOF funds to complete commitments already made would result in wasteful use of finite universal service support and promote “double dipping.”
GeoLinks largely supports the pre-auction and bidding procedures and processes proposed in the Public Notice. However, GeoLinks urges the Commission to take steps to protect RDOF funds by limiting satellite providers and those that have never filed a Form 477 from bidding Gigabit and Above Baseline performance tiers and precluding service providers from participating in the auction if they have already received some incentive from the Commission to deploy high-speed broadband facilities to areas eligible for RDOF funding.
California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks
/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer
/s/ Melissa Slawson, General Counsel/ V.P of Government Affairs and Education
March 27, 2020
 See Public Notice, “Comment Sought on Competitive Bidding Procedures and Certain Program Requirements for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction (Auction 904),” AU Docket No. 20-34 and WC Docket Nos. 19-126 & 10-90 (rel. Mar. 2, 2020) (“Public Notice”).
 Inc. Magazine’s 37th Annual List of America’s Fastest-Growing Private Companies—the Inc. 5000 (https://www.inc.com/inc5000/2019/top-private-companies-2019-inc5000.html).
 Public Notice at paras. 49 and 50.
 Id. at para 50.
 This includes low-earth orbit satellite providers such as SpaceX, who seek to participate in the RDOF auction.
 Memorandum Opinion, Order and Authorization, In the Matter of Space Exploration Holdings, LLC Application for Approval for Orbital Deployment and Operating Authority for the SpaceX NGSO Satellite System; Application for Approval for Orbital Deployment And Operating Authority for Orbital Deployment and Operating Authority for the SpaceX NGSO Satellite System Supplement, IBFS File Nos. SAT-LOA-20161115-0018, Call Sign S2983, and SAT-LOA-20170726-00110, Call Sign S3018 (released March 29, 2018) (“SpaceX Order”), at para. 1.
 SpaceX Order at paras. 31-33.
 Id. at paras. 31 and 33.
 SpaceX Order at para. 33.
 See SpaceX Notice of Ex Parte Communications, WC Docket No. 19-126, WC Docket No. 10-90 (filed January 20, 2020) stating that “SpaceX is targeting service in the Northern U.S. and Canada in 2020, rapidly expanding to near global coverage of the populated world by 2021.” See also SpaceX Notice of Ex Parte Communications, WC Docket No. 19-126, WC Docket No. 10-90 (filed February 20, 2020) stating that “SpaceX has already launched over 300 satellites…and has an aggressive launch rate that will ensure full coverage to the entire United States.”
 The SpaceX Order was released on March 29, 2018 – 16 months before the Commission released its Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for RDOF. See generally RDOF Order.