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In the Matter of Expanding Flexible Use of the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz Band

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, DC  20554

 

In the Matter of Expanding Flexible Use of the 3.7 GHz to 4.2 GHz Band | GN Docket No. 18-122 

 

REPLY COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. DBA GEOLINKS

California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) submits these reply comments in response to comments received on the Public Notice issued on May 1, 2018.[1]

 

  1. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

GeoLinks believes that the 3.7-4.2 GHz band ​is​ ​well-suited​ ​to​ ​support​ point-to-multipoint (“P2MP”) ​​broadband​ ​access.  As GeoLinks has previously stated, P2MP service options are ideal because they allow a wireless service provider to provide dedicated high-speed broadband connections to several end-users (i.e. several households throughout a community) from one location, requiring fewer towers and less equipment than point-to-point connections.  This is especially beneficial in rural and high-cost areas and can provide much-needed competition to incumbent providers in urban and suburban areas.  With the appropriate rules, the Commission can ensure P2MP use is feasible in the band, which will result in more affordable, high-speed broadband and increased broadband competition.

 

  1. DISCUSSION
  2. The Commission Should Open an NPRM to Assess the Viability of the 3.7-4.2 GHz Band

As stated in the Public Notice, the Commission must assess “the feasibility of allowing commercial wireless services” in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band and submit a report to Congress on its findings.[2]  While the Commission could draft a standalone report in compliance with this directive, GeoLinks believes that this presents an opportunity for the Commission to do a deeper dive into how best to utilize the band.  As stated in its opening comments, GeoLinks believes that the 3.7-4.2 GHz band offers an opportunity for the Commission to allocate spectrum resources in a way that will promote competition and help bridge the digital divide while protecting current users of the band.  Issuing an NPRM in this proceeding would allow the Commission to create a robust record regarding potential uses of the band and technical guidance regarding sharing mechanisms that it may be able to apply to other bands, as well. As such, GeoLinks agrees with T-Mobile that the Commission should open an NPRM in this proceeding and base any report provided to Congress based on the record created as a result.[3]

 

  1. The 3.7-4.2 GHz Band Should Not Be Used Exclusively for Mobile

There is a common theme echoed by the mobile wireless commenters that the 3.7-4.2 band should allocated “for mobile broadband use on a flexible basis”[4] and that the “adjacency to the 3.5 GHz band” justify the “allocating and repurposing” of a large swath of the band for 5G services.[5]  However, earmarking the band for mobile broadband services exclusively is not the best use of the band to promote immediate utilization and public interest.

Spectrum is, first and foremost, a public resource and should be allocated in ways that promotes immediate and robust use of it.  As GeoLinks noted in its opening comments, the Company agrees with the Broadband Access Coalition (“BAC”) that the band “is not now, and will not for several years, be suitable for mobile use given the existing deployment of FSS earth stations and FS P2P links.”[6]  In its opening comments, even T-Mobile acknowledges this fact stating that “T-Mobile recognizes that not all 500 MHz may be available immediately for exclusive terrestrial operations in all locations.”[7]  In part, this is because optimal mobile use of the band would require the FCC to repack existing users into another portion of the band or to another band all together.[8]  Or, in the alternative, would request that FSS stations be forced to utilize fiber connections to replace downlinks to earth station receivers or even relocate earth stations to more remote locations.[9]

As the Satellite Industry Association (“SIA”) explains, the satellite industry has already invested significant resources into the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.[10]  Forcing license holders to shift to a new portion of the band (potentially requiring new transmission equipment), to physically relocate infrastructure (requiring construction and potentially triggering environmental review), or to completely restructure technology platforms could require these companies to lose the benefit of their investments and potentially force them to incur significant costs.[11]

GeoLinks fails to see the public interest argument for requiring license holders to incur potentially significant costs or for additional administrative oversight to repack the band when the band could be utilized now, as is.  GeoLinks asserts that P2MP technology can be utilized in the band almost immediately without interfering with existing users and without requiring existing users to uproot their existing systems and infrastructure.

 

  1. Spectrum Sharing is Possible in the 3.7-4.2 GHz Band with the Appropriate Coordination Practices

Contrary to claims made by some commenters, sharing IS possible in the 3.7-4.2 GHz band.  While CTIA, for example, is correct that it is not possible for existing users of the band to share with mobile broadband providers, this does not apply to fixed broadband providers.[12]

As explained in its opening comments, GeoLinks (as well as other fixed wireless broadband providers) can coordinate its use of a frequency around any fixed point that may be necessary (i.e. an FSS earth station).  Unlike mobile wireless, fixed wireless technology uses directional antennas and fixed transmission points that travel in a designated path.  Between those connection points, fiber optic technology is used.  This is demonstrated in the figure below.

 

GeoLinks' Fixed Wireless

FIGURE 1: GeoLinks ClearFiber™ Distribution[13]

 

Compare this figure to that provided in NCTA’s comments, showing directional transmission connections between satellites and fixed, terrestrial points.[14]  So long as the transmission path between towers and receiving equipment is engineered to avoid overlap with another signal utilizing the same spectrum, interference can be avoided.[15]  With respect to the 3.7-4.2 GHz band, if the locations of FSS earth stations and their transmission paths are known, this can be accomplished.

To that end, if an FSS earth station is properly registered and identified within the band, it can be protected from interference – and should be.  However, as SIA notes, up to 90% of earth stations are unregistered.[16]  GeoLinks agrees with Google that “unregistered or incorrectly registered earth stations should not be entitled to interference protections.”[17]  This includes FSS stations that do not timely file their registrations with the FCC.  GeoLinks commends the Commission on its efforts to update its FSS earth station database and believes this is an important first step to better utilization of the band.

 

  1. The Commission Should Consider Strict Buildout and Usage Requirements for New Users of the 3.7-4.2 GHz Band

GeoLinks reiterates that any spectrum license should carry with it the requirement to serve the public interest – including for shared or light licensed spectrum.  Any additional use of the 3.7-4.2 GHz band should be subject to strict buildout and service requirements to help promote broadband deployment in rural areas.[18]  These requirements will alleviate the risk of spectrum warehousing and encourage rapid deployment of high-speed broadband by band users.

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  • CONCLUSION

In conclusion, GeoLinks urges the Commission to open an NPRM in this proceeding to consider the feasibility of and create rules for commercial wireless services under a shared, light licensed regime with robust build out requirements.

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

GEOLINKS, LLC

 

/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer

/s/ Melissa Slawson, General Counsel/ V.P of Government Affairs and Education

 

June 15, 2018

[1] Office of Engineering and Technology, International, and Wireless Telecommunications Bureaus Seek Comment for Report on the Feasibility of Allowing Commercial Wireless Services, Licensed or Unlicensed, to Use or Share Use of the Frequencies Between 3.7-4.2 GHz, Public Notice, GN Docket 18-122, DA 18-446 (re. May 1, 2018).
[2] Public Notice at 1-2.
[3] Comments of T-Mobile, GN Docket No. 18-122 (filed May 31, 2018), at 4 (“T-Mobile Comments”).  In addition, opening an NPRM would satisfy NCTA’s concern that proponents of sharing operations within the band “have not filed robust technical analysis” in the proceeding.  Comments of NCTA – the Internet & Television Association, GN Docket No. 18-122 (filed May 31, 2018), at 8 (“NCTA Comments”).
[4] T-Mobile Comments at 8.
[5] Comments of CTIA, GN Docket No. 18-122 (filed May 31, 2018), at 5 (“CTIA Comments”).
[6] Broadband Access Coalition, Petition for Rulemaking to Amend and Modernize Parts 25 and 101 of the Commission’s Rules to Authorize and Facilitate the Deployment of Licensed Point-to-Multipoint Fixed Wireless Broadband Service in the 3700-4200 MHz Band, RM-11791 (filed June 21, 2017), at 6 (“Petition”).
[7] T-Mobile Comments at 10
[8] CTIA Comments at 3.
[9] See CTIA Comments at 6.
[10] See Comments of the Satellite Industry Association, GN Docket No 18-122 (filed May 31, 2018), at 2-3 (SIA Comments).
[11] GeoLinks notes that one of the reasons that many rural Americans lack high-speed broadband connections is the high cost associated with fiber buildouts in remote areas.   These costs would also be high for any satellite provider forced to construct new fiber to replace downlinks to earth station receivers.
[12] See CTIA Comments at 2.
[13] ClearFiber™ is GeoLinks’ flagship fixed wireless product, offering dedicated, business-class internet with unlimited bandwidth, true network redundancy, guaranteed speeds, and backed by a carrier-grade Service Level Agreement boasting 99.999% uptime and 24/7 in-house customer support.
[14] See Figure 1: Cable Video Distribution, NCTA Comments at 3.
[15] With the correct design, in most areas, FCC stations can be avoided by the 30-75 kms that NCTA explains would be required to protect earth stations from harmful interference. See NCTA Comments at 7.
[16] SIA Comments at 3.
[17] Comments of Google LLC, GN Docket 18-122 (filed May 31, 2018), at 3
[18] Specifically, GeoLinks recommends build out to a minimum number of locations.  In the alternative, GeoLinks recommends that the Commission require any new band user to make a showing that they are actually serving customers over the band within a reasonable timeframe.
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Reply Comments on Phase II — Amended Scoping Memo and Assigned Commissioner’s Ruling

BEFORE THE

CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION

Order Instituting Rulemaking to Consider Modifications to the California Advanced Services Fund.  |   Rulemaking No. 12-10-012 (Filed October 25, 2012)

 

REPLY COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. (U-7326-C) DBA GEOLINKS ON PHASE II OF THE FEBRUARY 14, 2018 AMENDED SCOPING MEMO AND ASSIGNED COMMISSIONER’S RULING

 

  1. INTRODUCTION

California Internet, L.P. (U-7326-C) dba GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”)[1] respectfully submits these reply comments on the Phase II Staff Proposal set forth in the February 14, 2018 Amended Scoping Memo and Assigned Commissioner’s Ruling (“Ruling”).

 

  1. DISCUSSION
    1. The Per Household Threshold for Ministerial Review Should be Technology Neutral

As noted in its Opening Comments, GeoLinks supports Staff’s proposal to create a ministerial review process for certain projects.  The Company believes that such a process will reserve Commission resources and encourage more participation in the CASF program.  However, commenters agree that the per household cost thresholds Staff proposes for this ministerial review process should be changed.  For example, the California Cable and Telecommunications Association (“CCTA”) asserts that these thresholds are not technology neutral, explaining that the thresholds give “fiber-to-the-home a 12-13 times cost advantage over other technologies.”[2]  The Joint Consumers urge the Commission to “ensure that applicants interested in the expedited process develop cost-effective project plans” after addressing that the $15,560 figure for fiber is “relatively high.”[3]  In addition, Frontier objects to the cost-per-household criteria explaining that “[u]se of prior CASF cost per household as a criteria for expedited treatment is not justified, prudent, or pursuant to any legislative direction.”[4]

In its opening comments, GeoLinks urged the Commission to set a flat cost per household threshold for its ministerial review process that would apply to all CASF applicants, regardless of technology type.  Some commenters proposed different ideas for these thresholds.  Joint Consumers suggest that the Commission develop a cost model equation for estimating fiber costs.  Though GeoLinks is not opposed to the creation of a cost model, this proposed solution does not get at the heart of the issue – that different technology types are placed on different footing under Staff’s proposal.  Instead, while not specifically proposed in the context of ministerial review, GeoLinks urges the Commission to take note of Frontier’s suggestion to create a review threshold where total project costs are below $5 million, and/ or cost per-household is below $3000 (seemingly regardless of technology-type) and apply a similar structure to the ministerial review process.[5]  GeoLinks asserts that regardless of what threshold, methodology, equation, etc. Staff uses for its ministerial review, it must be applied equally to all projects, regardless of technology type.

 

  1. The Commission Should Adopt and Adhere to the Proposed 21-day Challenge Process

Several commenters make suggestions regarding the appropriate process for challenging proposed CASF projects.  As an initial matter, GeoLinks believes that the challenge process is important to ensure CASF funds are not spent on projects where there is existing broadband service but asserts that the Commission must strike a balance to ensure adequate time to challenge without creating a challenge process that will cause endless delays to CASF project review.  As Race Telecommunications Communications Inc. (“Race”) attests, late challenges cause delays and can result in additional costs to an applicant.[6]   Therefore, GeoLinks supports the proposed 21-calendar day challenge process, but, similar to Race, only if there is strict adherence to it.[7]

GeoLinks urges the Commission to reject other proposed challenge processes and timeframes presented by other commenters that would significantly expand or contract the 21-day proposed process.  Joint Consumers, for example, propose “a 45-day challenge window from the date the application” is filed.[8]  While, Joint Consumers assert that 21-days may not be enough time to ensure substantive and meaningful challenges, it fails to provide any examples.[9]  GeoLinks asserts that for carriers who are actively tracking the CASF process and are on the CASF Distribution List, 21-days is sufficient to prepare and submit a challenge.  In addition, a 21-day limit ensures no unreasonable delays by a would-be challenger that could ultimately slow down the application process.

On the flip side, AT&T essentially suggests that the project-specific challenge process be eliminated.  AT&T urges the Commission to compose a list of eligible census blocks, including which are designated as low-income or high-priority, that carriers can use to prepare CASF applications.[10]  However, AT&T suggests that this list be created “each year before applications are submitted.”[11]  This proposal assumes one application period per year and fails to account for the ever-changing broadband landscape in California and for business model differences between larger, incumbent, fiber-based carriers and smaller, more nimble, competitive carriers.  First, due to the process for reporting and mapping broadband availability data, the California Broadband map does not change in real-time as availability changes.  Second, because smaller, competitive carriers may not be limited by fiber construction requirements, such as fixed-wireless providers, network deployment efforts can happen on a more rapid basis.  Limiting the ability to challenge CASF projects to once a year may mean CASF subsidies funding projects in areas where deployment occurs after the list is created (and the initial challenge period has been exhausted).  Or, it may have the effect of disincentivizing carriers from deploying their own infrastructure to unserved areas of the state outside of the CASF process.  In either event, AT&T’s proposed process should be rejected.

GeoLinks urges the Commission to adopt its proposed 21-day process and reject any proposal to expand or contract that challenge window.

 

  1. The Commission Must Ensure the Right of First Refusal Submissions Process Does Not Become a Mechanism for Blocking Competition

As stated in its opening comments, GeoLinks urges the Commission to implement rules to ensure carriers do not use the Right of First Refusal (“ROFR”) process to block areas where they have no intention to deploy broadband infrastructure.  Several commenters express similar sentiments.  Gold Country Broadband Consortium, for example, expresses the importance for the Commission to understand how the ROFR process could be used to block competition, innovation and opportunity.[12]  Moreover, similar to GeoLinks’ suggestion, some commenters agree that there should be negative consequences for ROFR providers that fail to complete projects in a timely manner.[13]  GeoLinks maintains that the Commission should consider penalties for failure to construct an ROFR area after the initial 180-day period, or any granted extension, such as preclusion from participating in the CASF program.

 

  1. Connect America Fund Recipients Should be Subject to Mandatory Waiting Periods Before Becoming Eligible to Apply for CASF Funding.

As stated in its opening comments, in adopting any rules related to the treatment of Connect America Fund Phase II (“CAF”) recipients, GeoLinks urges the Commission to remember that these recipients made commitments to the FCC in exchange for receipt of CAF funds.  As an initial matter, GeoLinks agrees with CETF that there should be a waiting period before a CASF Application can be submitted for a CAF area.[14]  However, as GeoLinks suggested in its opening comments, this waiting period should apply specifically to the CAF recipient that opted not to complete a CAF build in that area.

As a specific example, GeoLinks cited a notice filed by Frontier in which it informed the Commission that it would not be pursuing a specific CAF area (Desert Shores) and the CASF application for the exact same area that Frontier filed the very next day.  In its opening comments, Frontier appears to laud its own actions as an effort to “leverage CAF deployment” and alerts the Commission that it may follow a similar path in other areas, depending on the Commission’s actions on its CASF application.[15]

While GeoLinks supports leveraging federal funds to maximize the effectiveness of the CASF program, GeoLinks does not support Frontier’s actions.  As GeoLinks noted in its opening comments, Frontier essentially blocked all other broadband providers from being able to seek CASF funding to serve the Desert Shores area – providers that may have proposed a better project for the area than that proposed by Frontier.  As such, GeoLinks continues to suggest CAF recipients that relinquish a CAF area be subject to minimum a 90-day mandatory waiting period before a CASF application for that area can be submitted (or longer, depending on when notice is provided).[16]

 

  1. The Commission Should Allow More Than One CASF Application Submission Period Each Calendar Year

GeoLinks agrees with other commenters that there should be more than one CASF application deadline per year.  In the Proposal, Staff addresses the approval delays that have, to date, been commonplace in the CASF program.[17]  Specifically, staff proposes two CASF grant application opportunities each year (every 180 days).  GeoLinks supports the notion of more than one application period per year.  As Race points out, an annual submission is too rigid and will result in more delated broadband service to the public.[18]  GeoLinks agrees and urges the Commission to adopt Race’s suggestion to accept CASF applications on a rolling basis, not on a set schedule.[19]

At a minimum, GeoLinks urges the Commission to adopt at least two application periods and reject any attempt to reduce the number of application periods.  Specifically, GeoLinks urges the Commission to reject AT&T’s suggestion that there should be a single deadline for CASF applications.[20]  As GeoLinks explained in its opening comments, more application periods will incentivize more service providers to participate in the CASF program.  As explained above, because smaller, competitive carriers may not be limited by fiber construction requirement, such as fixed-wireless providers, network deployment efforts can happen on a more rapid basis, meaning that decisions to expand existing infrastructure can happen more quickly.  Ignoring these factors when finalizing rules for the CASF program could ultimately disincentivize competitive carriers from applying at all.  As the Commission seeks to incentivize more participation in the CASF program, GeoLinks believes that ensuring multiple opportunities to submit CASF applications will help further this goal and encourages the Commission to adopt rules accordingly.

 

  1. Higher Proposed Speeds Should be Given More Weight as a Scoring Criteria

GeoLinks echoes the disappointment of other commenters regarding the changes to speed thresholds set forth in AB 1665.[21]  Therefore, the Commission must do something to ensure that unserved areas of California do not fall too far behind the national standard of 25 Mbps / 3 Mbps implemented by the FCC.

The Commission should reject outright AT&T’s assertion that because 10/1 “is a mandatory prerequisite for any application, the Commission should eliminate the points that Staff proposes to allocate for bandwidth speed.”[22]  This “good enough” approach does nothing to future-proof network design to ensure adequate speed and capacity for years to come and runs contrary to the goals of the CASF program.[23]  Instead, GeoLinks strongly agrees with Race that applications with faster speeds should be scored higher that those that propose slower speeds.[24]

 

  • CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, GeoLinks urges the Commission to adopt changes that ensure technology neutral administration of the CASF program, incentives for participation, promote robust, “future proof” CASF projects, and prevent gaming of the program to block competition.

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

/s/ Melissa Slawson

 

Melissa Slawson

General Counsel, V.P. of Government Affairs and Education

California Internet, L.P. dba GeoLinks

251 Camarillo Ranch Rd

Camarillo, CA 93012

 

May 1, 2018

 

[1] For more information about fixed-wireless technology and GeoLinks’ Clearfiber™ network, visit https://geolinks.com/what-is-fixed-wireless-internet
[2] CCTA Opening Comments at 9-10, expressing concern that “the criteria for triggering ‘expedited ministerial review’ is not ‘technology neutral’ as required by Pub. Util. Code § 281(f)(1).”
[3] The Utility Reform Network, and the Greenlining Institute (“Joint Consumers”) Opening Comments at 2.
[4] Citizens Telecommunications Company of California Inc., Frontier Communications of the Southwest Inc., and Frontier California Inc. (“Frontier”) Opening Comments at 5.
[5] GeoLinks supports this flat per-household cost but cautions against the price-per-project cost without additional requirements (perhaps such as minimum households served, or minimum area covered, etc.).
[6] Race Opening Comments at 9.
[7] See Id. at 9.
[8] Joint Consumers Opening Comments at 15.
[9] Id. at 14.
[10] AT&T Opening Comments at 10.
[11] Id. at 9.
[12] Gold Country Broadband Consortium Opening Comments at 2.
[13] California Emerging Technology Fund (“CETF”) Opening Comments at 3.
[14] Id. at 2.
[15] Frontier Opening Comments at 9
[16] See GeoLinks’ Opening Comments at 7.
[17] Ruling, Appendix C. at 13.
[18] Race Opening Comments at 8.
[19] Id. at 8.
[20] See AT&T at 19 and at FN 12.
[21] See e.g. Race Communications at 4, California Center for Rural Policy, Rural County Representatives of California, Upstate California Connect Consortium and the Northeastern California Connect Consortium at 6, North Bay North Coast Broadband Consortium at 5.
[22] AT&T Opening Comments at 22.
[23] See Joint Consumers Opening Comments at 11, suggesting that the Commission look to more factors than cost when assessing scoring criteria.
[24] Race Opening Comments at 5.
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Order Instituting Rulemaking to Consider Modifications to the CASF

BEFORE THE

CALIFORNIA PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMISSION

Order Instituting Rulemaking to Consider Modifications to the California Advanced Services Fund.  | Rulemaking No. 12-10-012 (Filed October 25, 2012)

OPENING COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. (U-7326-C) DBA GEOLINKS ON PHASE II OF THE FEBRUARY 14, 2018 AMENDED SCOPING MEMO AND ASSIGNED COMMISSIONER’S RULING

I. INTRODUCTION

 

California Internet, L.P. (U-7326-C) dba GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) respectfully submits these opening comments on the Phase II Staff Proposal set forth in the February 14, 2018 Amended Scoping Memo and Assigned Commissioner’s Ruling (“Ruling”).

Headquartered in Camarillo, CA, GeoLinks is nationally recognized for its innovative Internet and Hosted Voice solutions.  The Company’s proprietary ClearFiber™ product utilizes a combination of terrestrial fiber optic backhaul, carrier-grade full-duplex fixed wireless equipment, and FCC licensed spectrum to deliver ultra-reliable high-speed broadband Internet access via radio waves.[1]

GeoLinks was the largest construction grant winner for California K-12 schools and libraries in both 2016 and 2017, providing highspeed broadband to nearly 30 rural school districts and surrounding communities throughout the state that previously had not had access to any high-speed broadband service. The Company hopes to leverage its expertise in connecting unserved areas of the state to apply for California Advanced Services Fund (“CASF”) funding in the coming year.

II. DISCUSSION

A. The Commission Should Allow Flexibility in How CASF Applicants Provide Project Location Data

In its proposal, Staff proposes that CASF Applicants provide, among other things, the following with respect to project location data:

  • The geographic location of the project related key network equipment, such as: DSLAMs, wireless towers, router facilities, network interconnection, etcetera. (Format to be determined by Staff)[2]

In finalizing the format for such a requirement, GeoLinks urges the Commission to allow for flexibility in the provision of this information between the application and construction phases of the CASF process.  GeoLinks recommends that for the application phase Staff require this information by census area from CASF applicants.  Providing infrastructure location information by census area provides staff with mappable infrastructure data while ensuring maximum flexibility for network design.  Especially for competitive providers that are not limited by fiber construction requirements, the exact locations for certain pieces of network infrastructure (i.e. towers or receivers) may shift during the construction phase to account for land procurement, leasing, permitting, topography and vegetation, etc.  Moreover, requiring this information at a more granular level at the application phase may result in delays if an applicant has to seek approval of any changes, even if the resulting network functions exactly the same.  For these reasons, GeoLinks urges the Commission to seek this information at a census area level as part of the CASF application process.

B. The Per Household Threshold for Ministerial Review Should be the Same Regardless of Technology Type

In the Proposal, Staff addresses the approval delays that have, to date, been commonplace in the CASF program.[3]  Specifically, Staff addresses that the majority of projects take several years before approval is granted, creating opportunities for new challenges and problems.  To streamline the approval process, Staff recommends ministerial review process for applications that meet certain criteria.[4]

As an initial matter, GeoLinks supports Staff’s proposal to create a ministerial review process for certain projects.  The Company believes that such a process will reserve Commission resources and ensure that broadband deployment to unserved areas is completed on a more expedited basis.  In addition, GeoLinks believes such a process will encourage more participation in the CASF program as companies will no longer be faced with the open-ended uncertainty of when a project might get approved.  However, GeoLinks asserts that the per household cost thresholds Staff proposes for this ministerial review process will thwart Staff’s efforts to streamline the program and incentivize carriers to bid on these low-income areas.

As proposed, the process set forth for low-income communities creates a huge disparity between technology types.  Specifically, Staff proposes allowing this streamlined process for fixed wireless projects only if proposed project costs are $1,285 per household or less.  However, for the same project area (and likely the same offered speeds, prices, customer service, etc.), Staff proposes an allowable project cost of $15,650 per household for fiber builds – more than 12x the amount allowed for fixed wireless projects.[5]  Moreover, there is no limit proposed for satellite providers, assuming they are eligible to bid.

On its face, this discrepancy is contrary to the Commission’s stated goal of administering the CASF program on a “technology neutral” basis.[6]  While not clear from Staff’s proposal, GeoLinks believes these numbers may be based on amounts approved for projects in the past.  However, these numbers should be used as a mechanism to reevaluate the per household costs the Commission has historically awarded to broadband providers, not as a method by which to hinder certain technology-types from bidding on a CASF-eligible area.

For example, if a fixed wireless provider applies to provide high-speed broadband to households in a CASF-eligible, low-income area of the state for $1500 per household, that fixed wireless provider should not be precluded from the ministerial process when a fiber-based project, that will likely offer the same speeds, would be eligible – and for potentially upwards of $14,000 more PER HOUSEHOLD.

The proposed price discrepancy gives fiber providers a huge advantage and will only serve to disincentivize competitive providers from submitting CASF applications for areas where the cost threshold might be more than $1,285 per household.  In addition, a provider that submitted an application for slightly more than the threshold for fixed wireless would run the risk of being beat out by a fiber provider offering to deploy service for 12x the cost because they can get approved in a shorter period of time under the ministerial process.  This structure not only picks winners and losers in the CASF application process but encourages wasteful spending that could have be avoided if other technology types were given an equal opportunity for expedited application review.  Certainly, as proposed, this discrepancy fails meet the Assigned Commissioner’s stated goal to “consider appropriate administrative controls to ensure that funds granted to eligible applicants are administered efficiently and cost-effectively, consistent with the Account’s stated purposes and objectives.”[7]

Instead, GeoLinks urges the Commission to set a flat cost per household threshold for its ministerial review process that would apply to all CASF applicants, regardless of technology type.  Not only will this flat per household amount simplify the review process, but it will set all service providers on equal footing for ministerial review, ensuring maximum participation in the CASF program and promoting more efficient use of CASF funds.

C. GeoLinks supports Staff’s Proposal to Initiate a Request for Proposal Process “High-Priority” Areas but Urges Staff to Reevaluate Whether These Areas Are Still CASF-Eligible

Staff proposes implementing a Request for Proposal (“RFP”) process for “high-priority” areas where no applications have been received.  GeoLinks strongly supports Staff’s suggestion to implement an RFP process for these areas.  However, in doing so, GeoLinks urges the Commission to direct Staff to reevaluate the priority areas to assess census blocks that are currently available for CASF funding.

Earlier this year, GeoLinks was in the process of finalizing a CASF Application for several localities within the Salinas Valley area, all of which are listed as priority areas on the Commission’s website.[8]  However, between the changes implemented by Assembly Bill (“AB”) 1665[9] and new projects in the area (which were not previously reflected on the California Broadband Map), the area appears to be all but ineligible for CASF funding.  And the areas that remain cannot be served by a non-incumbent carrier without requiring a huge cost per household.  While GeoLinks has not analyzed all of the “priority areas” designated by the Commission, it stands to reason that a refresh of these areas may be necessary.  With specific guidance and direction for eligible areas in conjunction with a streamlined, ministerial review process, GeoLinks believes that the RFP process will yield numerous bidders and revitalize broadband deployment efforts in these priority areas.  Specifically, GeoLinks urges the Commission to update the California Broadband map to account for any changes that may impact high-priority areas (or any CASF-eligible areas), including awarded CASF grants, Commission-approved settlement agreements pursuant to merger transactions, other federal and state grant funding, etc., and to do so more expeditiously going forward

In addition, similar to the process recommended above, GeoLinks suggests that carriers be placed on equal footing with respect to eligibility to bid on these RFPs.  Specifically, GeoLinks urges the Commission to score applications based on the same criteria, regardless of technology type, and suggests a flat per household threshold for ministerial review, applicable to all applicants.

D. The Commission Should Create Rules for Right of First Refusal Submissions to Avoid the Process Becoming a Mechanism for Blocking Competition

GeoLinks urges the Commission to implement rules to ensure carriers do not use the Right of First Refusal (“ROFR”) process to block areas where they have no intention to deploy broadband infrastructure.  First, GeoLinks urges the Commission to implement rules that limit a carrier’s ability to file multiple ROFR letters for the same area.  If a carrier files an ROFR for an area, it has 180 days to either deploy broadband/ upgrade its existing facilities or seek an extension.  If after the exhaustion of the initial 180-day period or any granted extension the provider has failed to deploy or upgrade its facilities as set forth in the ROFR, the carrier should not be allowed to re-bid the area in any subsequent round.   Second, GeoLinks believes that repeated extensions are only reasonable if the delay is completely outside the control of the ROFR filer.  Delays due to inability to secure funding, reasonably avoidable construction delays, etc. should not suffice.  Lastly, the Commission should consider penalties for failure to never construct an ROFR area after seeking an extension such as preclusion from participating in the CASF program.

E. Connect America Fund Recipients Should be Subject to Mandatory Waiting Periods Before Becoming Eligible to Apply for CASF Funding.

As set forth in AB 1665, Connection America Fund Phase II (“CAF”) areas are ineligible for CASF funding until July 1, 2020, unless the existing facility-based broadband provider has notified the Commission before July 1, 2020, that it has either completed or elected not to build its CAF deployment in the census block.  In its Proposal, Staff seeks comment on the following:

  1. How can the Commission incentivize existing facilities based broadband providers to build out their CAF II obligations in a timely manner?
  2. How and what is the process for existing providers to notify the Commission before July 1, 2020, that it has either completed or elected not to build its CAF [project] to expand broadband service within identified census blocks?[10]

As an initial matter, in adopting any rules related to the treatment of CAF recipients, GeoLinks urges the Commission to remember that these recipients made commitments to the FCC in exchange for receipt of CAF funds.  Specifically, these providers agreed that in exchange for the model-based support they would “deploy voice and broadband-capable networks to all supported locations that are deemed ‘high-cost’ and not served by an unsubsidized competitor.”[11]  If a CAF recipient fails to meet these commitments (either by only completing a portion of an area or not completing an area at all), the Commission should not allow them to game the system and benefit from CASF funding.

By way of example, recently Frontier Communications informed the Commission that it would not be pursuing a specific CAF area (Desert Shores).[12]  The very next day, however, Frontier filed a CASF application for the exact same area.[13]  Based on Frontier’s CAF commitment, Staff flagged the Desert Shores area as ineligible for CASF funding.  This blocked all other broadband providers from seeking CASF funding to serve the Desert Shores area.

Clearly, Frontier waited to announce that it would not be using CAF funding for Desert Shores until its CASF application was complete (since that filing occurred the next day).  Meaning that Frontier not only knew in advance it would not be upholding its commitments under CAF but withheld that information from the Commission for its own benefit.  This behavior should not be rewarded and is most certainly not in the public interest.

To avoid this gaming of the CASF program in the future, GeoLinks urges the Commission to subject CAF providers that bow out of their FCC commitments under the CAF program to a mandatory waiting period before they can apply for CASF funding for a previously blocked CAF area.  Specifically, GeoLinks suggests a 90-day mandatory waiting period if notice is provided to the Commission before January 1, 2019 and a 180-day mandatory waiting period if notice is provided to the Commission after January 1, 2019 but before January 1, 2020.  However, if a provider waits until after January 1, 2020, the Commission should completely preclude the provider from applying for CASF funds for the same area.  Moreover, the Commission should consider subjecting any CAF recipient who waits until after January 1, 2020 to inform the Commission of its election not to complete its deployment commitments in a CAF area to a Rule 1.1 violation. Given the time necessary to plan and deploy a broadband network, if a recipient has not begun deployment or made significant steps towards deployment with only 6 months remaining before the July 1, 2020 deadline, it can be inferred that the recipient had no intention of deploying broadband to that area and withheld such information from the Commission constituting misleading “the Commission or its staff by an artifice or false statement of fact or law.”[14]

For these reasons, GeoLinks strongly urges the Commission to develop rules that preclude CAF recipients from gaming the CASF program in their favor.

F. The Commission Should Allow an Additional CASF Application Submission Period Each Calendar Year

In its Proposal, Staff seeks input on timing for CASF submissions, asking the following:

  1. Should an additional CASF grant application opportunity be afforded following the July 31st ROFR completion dates, thereby permitting submission of applications every 180 days? How will this affect prioritization of projects?

GeoLinks supports an additional annual grant application opportunity for a number of reasons.  First, this bi-annual submission process will maximize efficient administration of the CASF program.  A new submission deadline every 6-months will help ensure that application review stays on track for expedited processing.  Paired with the new ministerial processes that Staff has proposed, CASF application review will become more streamlined and allow for the assessment of a second round of applications within a calendar year.

Second, the bi-annual application deadline will incentivize more service providers to participate in the CASF program, as they can plan their CASF application(s) to align better with pre-planned company expenditures or resource allocations.  For example, smaller companies may have finite network design and deployment resources to dedicate to large builds.  If those resources are tied up in a large project for the first half of the year but not the latter half of the year, a company may be precluded from applying for a CASF grant until the next annual deadline.  This could ultimately disincentivize the company to apply at all.   However, if a bi-annual application process was implemented, these broadband providers would have the flexibility to time a CASF application in a way that best aligns with their resource allocation plans.  As the Commission seeks to incentivize more participation in the CASF program, GeoLinks believes a second annual submission deadline would further this goal.

G. The Commission Should Implement Technology Neutral Scoring Criteria

In its Proposal, Staff recommends revising certain scoring criteria to give greater weight to projects in areas that are “low-income” or “high-priority.”[15]  GeoLinks supports this shift in scoring criteria as a way to incentivize projects geared towards these areas.  That said, GeoLinks asserts that staff should not assess points associated with pricing in the same way proposed in Section 1.7 of Appendix C, which places a $1,285 limit per household on fixed wireless project proposals but a whopping $15,650 limit (12x higher) per household for fiber-based projects for ministerial review, based solely on technology type.

GeoLinks urges the Commission to impose a review process that puts all providers on an equal footing to ensure competition amongst CASF applicants.  Specifically, GeoLinks asserts that the Commission must ensure an apples-to-apples comparison when evaluating CASF applications (the total price/ offering regardless of technology) and not an apples-to-fiber comparison that gives more expensive business models a leg up for no reason other than these projects have traditionally been more expensive in the past.  This will ensure that CASF projects costs stay low yet will translate to better use of funds and additional funds for additional projects.

III. CONCLUSION

Based on the foregoing, GeoLinks urges the Commission to adopt changes that ensure flexibility for competitive carriers, technology neutral administration of the program, incentives for participation, and prevent gaming of the program to block competition.

 

/

/

/

/

/

Respectfully submitted,

 

/s/ Melissa Slawson

 

Melissa Slawson

General Counsel, V.P. of Government Affairs and Education

California Internet, L.P. dba GeoLinks

251 Camarillo Ranch Rd

Camarillo, CA 93012

 

April 16, 2018

[1] For more information about fixed-wireless technology and GeoLinks’ Clearfiber™ network, visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V8GvGOKCpnk
[2] Ruling, Appendix C, at 9-10.
[3] Id., at 13.
[4] Id., at 13
[5] See Id., at 14.
[6] Interim Opinion Implementing California Advanced Services Fund, Decision 07-12-054 (rel. December 20, 2007), at 8: “The CASF shall be administered on a technology neutral basis by the Commission.”  See also Id. At 28: “CASF funding proposals will be reviewed based upon how well they meet the criteria for selection as set forth below, and, where applicable, compared with any competing claims to match the deployment offer under superior terms. Such criteria should be evaluated on a competitively neutral basis.” (Emphasis added).
[7] Ruling at 6.
[8] See http://www.cpuc.ca.gov/uploadedFiles/CPUC_Public_Website/Content/Utilities_and_Industries/ Communications_-_Telecommunications_and_Broadband/ConsortiaPriorityAreas(1).xlsx (last visited April 12, 2018).
[9] Chapter 851, Statutes of 2017.
[10] Ruling, Appendix C, at 16.
[11] Connect America Fund, et al. Report and Order, Declaratory Ruling, Order, Memorandum Opinion and Order, Seventh Order on Reconsideration, and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, WC Docket No. 10-90 et al., FCC 14-54 (rel. June 10, 2014), at para. 60.
[12] Frontier notice “CAF II Census Blocks – Desert Shores” (Feb. 6, 2018).
[13] Frontier CASF Broadband Infrastructure Grant Application – Desert Shores (Feb. 7, 2018).
[14] Rule 1.1., Rules of Practice and Procedure.
[15] Ruling, Appendix C, at 18.
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Use of Spectrum Bands Above 24 GHz For Mobile Radio Services

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, DC 20554

In the Matter of Use of Spectrum Bands Above 24 GHz For Mobile Radio Services

Establishing a More Flexible Framework to Facilitate Satellite Operations in the 27.5-28.35 GHz and 37.5-40 GHz Bands

Amendment of Parts 1, 22, 24, 27, 74, 80, 90, 95, and 101 To Establish Uniform License Renewal, Discontinuance of Operation, and Geographic Partitioning and Spectrum Disaggregation Rules and Policies for Certain Wireless Radio Services

Allocation and Designation of Spectrum for Fixed-Satellite Services in the 37.5-38.5 GHz, 40.5-41.5 GHz and 48.2-50.2 GHz Frequency Bands; Allocation of Spectrum to Upgrade Fixed and Mobile Allocations in the 40.5-42.5 GHz Frequency Band; Allocation of Spectrum in the 46.9-47.0 GHz Frequency Band for Wireless Services; and Allocation of Spectrum in the 37.0-38.0 GHz and 40.0-40.5 GHz for Government Operations

GN Docket No. 14-177

IB Docket No. 15-256

WT Docket No. 10-112

IB Docket No. 97-95

 

REPLY COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. DBA GEOLINKS

California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) submits these reply comments in response to the Spectrum Frontiers Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“Frontiers Second FNPRM”).1

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

GeoLinks serves the largest coverage area of any single fixed wireless Internet service provider in California. The Company’s fixed wireless technology platform depends on access to spectrum resources sufficient to support enterprise-level broadband connections. As such, GeoLinks has advocated before this Commission on a number of spectrum matters over the last year. While the proceedings may differ, there are a few over-arching policy considerations that GeoLinks has repeatedly asserted are necessary to ensure robust competition within the broadband marketplace. These include ensuring spectrum resources are available on a competitive basis and ensuring policies do not favor one technology over others. GeoLinks urges the Commission to apply these same considerations to ensure that there is competitive access to the millimeter wave (“mmW”) bands and associated equipment ecosystem.

II. DISCUSSION

A. The Commission Should Retain Pre-Auction Review and Limitations on Spectrum Holdings

GeoLinks strongly agrees with Starry, Inc. (“Starry”) that the Commission must reaffirm competition policies that prevent over-aggregation of critical spectrum resources.2 In the Frontiers Second FNPRM, the Commission proposes to eliminate the pre-auction limit of 1250 Megahertz for the 28 GHz, 37 GHz and 39 GHz bands.3 Limiting spectrum ownership is necessary to carry out the Commission’s mandate of “promoting economic opportunity and competition and ensuring new and innovative technologies are readily accessible to the American people by avoiding excessive concentration of licenses by disseminating licenses among a wide variety of applicants.”4 As Starry explains, spectrum holdings limitations have played an important role in the FCC’s competition policy for decades.5

GeoLinks agrees with Starry that establishing individual bidders’ limits in advance of an auction promotes transparency and provides all bidders with information necessary to facilitate rational bidding. 6 To the contrary, analyzing spectrum holdings after an auction will require winning bidders that exceed the threshold to divest excess spectrum after-the-fact. From a policy perspective, this creates a system where auction winners who have knowingly purchased more spectrum than they are allowed to have, get the opportunity to pick and choose the best spectrum and discard the rest. This creates the need for the FCC to reevaluate what spectrum will be left over after negotiating individual relinquishments and potentially create the need for an additional spectrum auction to license whatever remains in the band. The result is a system in which large incumbents with large amounts of capital are able to secure any spectrum they want with no need to account for what they already have.

Chairman Pai has stated that the Commission “ha[s] no business picking winners and losers in the marketplace.”7 However, creating a policy that allows large carriers to disregard spectrum limits would do just that. As Untied States Cellular Corporation explains, history has shown that unless large carriers are subject to reasonable spectrum acquisition restraints both pre and post-auction, they are likely to pursue mmW spectrum acquisition relentlessly, which will shut out smaller carriers who might otherwise bid on available spectrum.8 For these reasons, GeoLinks urges the Commission to retain pre-auction review and limitations on spectrum holdings.

B. The Commission Must Ensure a Robust Market for Equipment in the 24 GHz Band

In addition to ensuring that new and innovative technologies are capable of accessing spectrum resources, GeoLinks agrees with Starry that the Commission must also ensure “that all licensees in new spectrum bands have access to equipment ecosystems through effective operability requirements.”9 GeoLinks has previously advocated for spectrum policies that allow smaller service providers the ability to leverage market factors to drive down the cost of equipment. Unlike large incumbent carriers, smaller service providers lack the market power to ensure affordable equipment is available for all spectrum bands. As Starry explains, without operability requirements, these large carriers will be incentivized to inhibit competitive access to network equipment and devices. 10 This may result in underdevelopment of the band, a problem that the Commission has been dealing with in the 700 MHz band for years.11 For these reasons, GeoLinks urges the Commission establish operability requirements in the 24 GHz band.

C. The Commission Should Allow Sharing in the 37-37.6 GHz Band

In its opening comments, CTIA advocates for reconsideration of the Commission’s decision to allocate the 37-37.6 GHz Band on a coordinated basis.12 Specifically, CTIA urges the Commission to make this band available on a licensed basis claiming that an experimental sharing regime would be premature.13 However, GeoLinks believes that it is premature to suggest that the Commission close this band off to experimental use when mobile carriers themselves are not able to state explicitly how much spectrum them will need to roll out their 5G services.14 Instead, GeoLinks urges the Commission to finalize rules for shared access to the 37-37.6 GHz band to allow new technologies an opportunity to access these spectrum resources.

III. CONCLUSION

In conclusion, GeoLinks urges the Commission to ensure that there is competitive access to the mmW bands and associated equipment ecosystem by creating policies that ensure spectrum resources are available on a competitive basis without favoring one technology over others.

 

Respectfully submitted,

GEOLINKS, LLC

/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer

/s/ Melissa Slawson, General Counsel/ V.P of Government Affairs and Education

February 22, 2018

 

1. Use of Spectrum Bands Above 24 GHz, et al., Second Report and Order, Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, Order on Reconsideration, and Memorandum Opinion and Order, 32 FCC Rcd 10988 (2017) (“Frontiers Second FNPRM”).
2 See Comments of Starry, Inc., GN Docket No. 14-177, et al. (filed Jan. 23, 2018) (“Starry Comments”), at 2.
3 Frontiers Second FNPRM at para. 105
4 See Section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended.
5 See Starry Comments at 2.
6 See Starry Comments at 3.
7 See Ajit Pai, Chairman, FCC Remarks on Restoring Internet Freedom (Nov. 28, 2017) (“We have no business picking winners and losers in the marketplace”).
8 See Comments of United States Cellular Corporation, GN Docket No. 14-177, et al. (filed Jan. 23, 2018), at 8.
9 Starry Comments at 5.
10 See Starry Comments at 5.
11 See Id.
12 Comments of CTIA, GN Docket No. 14-177, et al. (filed Jan. 23, 2018), at 10.
13 See Id.
14 See Comments of Verizon, GN Docket No. 14-177, et al. (filed Jan. 23, 2018), at 5, “It is too early to know how much bandwidth operators will need to provide customers with innovative 5G services.”
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Promoting Investment in the 3550-3700 MHz Band

Before the

Federal Communications Commission

Washington, DC  20554

 

In the Matter of

Promoting Investment in the 3550-3700 MHz Band

GN Docket No. 17-258

 

COMMENTS OF CALIFORNIA INTERNET, L.P. DBA GEOLINKS

 

California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) submits these reply comments in response to comments filed on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order Terminating Petitions (“Notice and Order”) issued October 24, 2017.

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

As noted in its opening comments, GeoLinks understands that the 3.5 GHz Band is gaining traction as “one of the core mid-range bands for 5G network deployments throughout the world” and acknowledges that any rules the Commission develops for this band will be primarily for 5G mobile wireless use.[1]  However, this band has propagation characteristics that make it optimal for other wireless technologies that can be deployed quickly to start closing the digital divide.

Sparsely populated rural areas are not well suited for traditional, wired broadband service given the cost to build and deliver a cable/ fiber-based network.  However, fixed wireless broadband technology can provide high-speed broadband to consumers in these areas for a fraction of the cost.  For this reason, it is imperative that spectrum resources be allocated in ways that allow fixed wireless ISPs to deploy services to these regions.

Chairman Pai has stated that the Commission “ha[s] no business picking winners and losers in the marketplace.”[2]  Therefore, the Commission must be careful to avoid creating spectrum policies that favor some technologies over others.  Currently, mobile wireless carriers have ample spectrum resources available to them.  However, smaller providers struggle to acquire even a fraction of what these large carriers already have.  For these reasons, GeoLinks urges the Commission to develop rules for the 3.5 GHz Band that support 5G deployment without closing off the band to other uses, such as fixed wireless service.

II. DISCUSSION

A. PAL Allocation Should be Done in a Way that Promotes Efficient Spectrum Use in Both Urban and Rural Areas

GeoLinks has consistently urged the Commission to consider the unique characteristics of rural vs. more populated urban areas when determining how those areas should be licensed to ensure the most efficient use of the spectrum.  To achieve this goal, GeoLinks makes the following suggestions with respect to PAL license areas and license terms.

As an initial matter, in reviewing comments filed in this docket and assessing the unique characteristics of the license areas that GeoLinks would seek to apply for, the Company believes that PALs at the county-level may strike a balance between PEAs and census tracts.  As Open Technology Institute at New America and Public Knowledge (“OTI & PK”) explains, many PEAs include both major metropolitan markets and rural areas, that may include hundreds of small towns.[3]  For example, PEA 2 in California has a population of nearly 20,000 while PEA 192 has a population of just over 300,000.[4]  In these situations, it makes little sense to treat all PEAs the same for the purposes of allocating spectrum licenses.

Meanwhile, GeoLinks agrees with commenters that census tracts are too small for general PAL assignments.[5]  In part, this is because wireless network areas are difficult to limit to census tract boundaries in urban areas (where census tracts are smaller than in rural areas).  Many times, depending on specific engineering, a fixed wireless transmitter will have the capability to extend a wireless broadband signal several miles, often covering numerous census tracts, especially in urban areas.  Assignment of PALs at the census tract level in urban areas could lead to carrier interference between PAL license areas and the need for expensive management processes to avoid such interference.  As NCTA points out, by reducing the total license areas from 74,000 census tracts to approximately 3,150 counties, the Commission would significantly simplify license management burdens and border coordination issues.[6]  GeoLinks is inclined to agree that county-sized licenses would also support rural deployment better than PEAs.[7]

Many commenters assert that counties are still too large and that awarding PAL licenses on a county-basis will stifle the ability for smaller carriers to obtain PALs in the 3.5 GHz band and will not promote deployment to rural areas.  GeoLinks believes that if PALs are awarded at the county level, subject to strict buildout requirements (as discussed in further detail below), and if the FCC establishes robust relinquishment, partition and/ or disaggregation rules, large carriers only looking to serve a small portion of a county will either seek out other spectrum resources or engage in secondary market agreements quickly within PAL areas.

While GeoLinks supports the idea of PALs being issued at the county-level, generally, the Company still recognizes that counties may not present a perfect option for all parts of the country and urges the Commission to consider the unique characteristics of rural vs. more populated areas when determining final license areas.  Just as PEAs differ in size and population, so do some counties.  Especially in California, counties can consist of large metropolitan areas and vast stretches of rural areas.  In these counties, GeoLinks supports the adoption of a hybrid approach but agrees with NCTA that “the Commission should carefully evaluate prospective solutions to ensure that they would meet the Commission’s substantive goals.”[8]

In addition to allocation by county (or hybrid approach in rural areas), GeoLinks supports a longer PAL license term.  As explained in its opening comments, the Company believes that longer terms will allow license holders time to better utilize the spectrum.  Specifically, the expectation of extended use of a specific band of spectrum creates certainty that will allow PAL holders to work with equipment manufacturers to develop and produce new equipment at lower costs.  These lower costs will, in turn, allow license holders to invest more resources into their networks to promote higher speeds, additional roll out, etc.  Shorter license periods, however, will have the opposite effect.  As AT&T points out, the current three-year license term (paired with no right of renewal), creates the risk that PAL licensees will face stranded investments.[9]  As T-Mobile notes, a ten-year term “would afford each licensee sufficient time to design and acquire the necessary equipment and devices and to deploy facilities across the license area.”[10]

Rural Wireless Association (“RWA”) asserts that “lengthening the PAL license term to ten years will result in spectrum lying fallow in rural areas and further deprive small and rural providers of access to protected 3.5 GHz.”[11]  GeoLinks agrees that without the appropriate checks and balances, this could be a risk.  Specifically, GeoLinks agrees with NCTA that longer, renewable terms also require appropriate performance obligations.[12]  GeoLinks asserts that PAL licensees must be subject to strict build out and reporting requirements (as discussed in further detail below).  If a license holder fails to meet these robust buildout requirements, the remaining portion of the PAL area should be subject to relinquishment, partition and/ or disaggregation to allow another service operator the opportunity to utilize the PAL for the remainder of the PAL license term.  When the PAL license term expires, the secondary PAL license holder(s) should get the first right of renewal for the PAL areas held.

B. The Commission Should Ensure Adequate PAL Allocation Among Technology Types to Promote Competition

Section 309(j) of the Communications Act of 1934 directs the Commission to promote “the development and rapid deployment of new technologies, products, and services for the benefit of the public,” while “disseminating licenses among a wide variety of applicants” and “avoiding excessive concentration of licenses.”[13]  As Google explains, with the right rules, PAL spectrum can support both established wireless and new investors with novel business models.[14]  GeoLinks agrees that “opening PAL spectrum to a wider set of potential licensees advances greater overall intensity of use, supports additional economic activity, and avoids the hazards that follow when government auction rules artificially limit access to spectrum that otherwise would support many business models.”[15]

GeoLinks asserts that PALs should be assigned in a way that ensures a mixture of technologies are able to utilize the 3.5 GHz Band.  One way in which the Commission can ensure competition within the 3.5 GHz Band is by keeping its existing spectrum aggregation limit in place.  While AT&T urges the elimination of the 40 MHz spectrum aggregation limit,[16] GeoLinks maintains that allocating more than 40 MHz of spectrum to one PAL holder will essentially close off the band to any other provider that could use that spectrum to provide high-speed broadband service.[17]  Moreover, allocating more than 40 MHz to one PAL holder that is not positioned to utilize the band immediately (e.g. a mobile wireless carrier planning to utilize the band for future 5G services) could mean that the 3.5 GHz Band would not be utilized fully for an indefinite amount of time.  GeoLinks agrees with OTI & PK that package bids be limited to three or at most four of the PALs (30-40 MHz).[18]

C. The Commission Cannot Solely Rely on Secondary Markets to Avoid Spectrum Warehousing or Underutilization of Spectrum in the 3.5 GHz Band

AT&T asserts that “allowing for partitioning and disaggregation will alleviate concerns that licensing on a PEA basis will result in underutilized spectrum.”[19]  However, as Google explains, “history confirms that the Commission’s partitioning and disaggregation rules, while sound, cannot be relied upon to promote access to spectrum for non-traditional or rural licensees. According to Commission records, the large wireless carriers who typically win mobile-ready spectrum in auctions only rarely engage in secondary market transactions with smaller entities, much less entities other than established telecommunications companies.”[20]

GeoLinks agrees with numerous commenters that the FCC cannot rely on the secondary marketplace alone if PALs are granted for larger geographic areas.[21]  However, GeoLinks believes that the secondary marketplace is a viable solution IF PALs are subject to strict build out and reporting requirements and the threat of forced relinquishment, partition and/ or disaggregation for failure to meet those requirements.

In developing policies surrounding allocation of PAL licenses in the 3.5 GHz band, GeoLinks urges the Commission to develop strict buildout and reporting requirements for PAL licensees.  As stated in its opening comments, the Company suggests that the Commission require license holders to provide status updates regarding their deployment/ network improvements within the 3.5 GHz Band by census block and reporting on a quarterly basis for the first year of the initial license period or renewal and annually thereafter.[22]

With respect to buildout metrics, GeoLinks strongly opposes T-Mobile’s proposal that the Commission adopt a performance requirement of coverage to only 40% of the population for licenses in the 3.5 GHz band.[23]   As OTI & PK notes, if build-out requirements are based on population, mobile carriers would satisfy them simply by building out almost solely in the high-density and/ or high-ARPU areas where the economic returns justify putting spectrum to work.[24]   GeoLinks asserts that the Commission must create buildout requirements that ensure the 3.5 GHz band is utilized in all areas of the PAL license areas, regardless of population density.  Failure to implement such requirements will only serve to ensure that large swaths of spectrum go unused; a concept that runs contrary to the Commission’s efforts to close the digital divide.

As stated in GeoLinks’ opening comments, minimum buildout requirements should be set high enough to ensure that unserved areas (if applicable) within the license area are not left behind.[25]  As such, GeoLinks suggests that the Commission implement buildout requirements based on locations within the PAL license area.

Moreover, the Commission should establish robust relinquishment, partition, and disaggregation processes for situations where buildout requirements are not met.  Similar to the RWA’s suggestion that unused PAL areas should be subject to a “keep-what-you-serve” standard at the time of renewal, GeoLinks suggests that this be taken a step further to ensure anything unserved within a reasonable time (i.e. one year from PAL assignment) can become available for reassignment by the Commission.[26]

GeoLinks believes that these buildout and reporting requirements, pair with a relinquishment, partition, and disaggregation process will ensure that large carriers either refrain from bidding on PAL areas in which they know they cannot or will not meet the build out requirements or ensure that these carriers seek out options for partitioning a portion of the PAL to another carrier expeditiously (before buildout requirements kick in).  However, in advocating for these safeguards, GeoLinks asserts that PAL holders should not be able to set the price or terms for transferring unused spectrum to an interested party.  GeoLinks firmly believes that if a PAL holder is not willing to utilize the 3.5 GHz Band throughout the entire license area or does not meet certain mandatory buildout requirements (such as those suggested above), the holder should not reap a benefit.

D. If the Commission Utilizes an Incentive Auction to Assign PAL Licenses in the 3.5 GHz Band, it Should Create a Process to Ensure All Types of Service Providers Can Participate

GeoLinks has previously advocated that incentive auctions should not be the preferred mechanism for determining how spectrum is licensed in all bands.[27]  This is because incentive auctions tend to only benefit large companies with large amounts of capital to spend and incentivize bidders to purchase spectrum resources as an asset for future use rather than for immediate use.  This process, while not necessarily designed to, picks “winners and losers” by creating a playing field that only a limited number of parties can participate in.  GeoLinks understands that the Commission will likely utilize the auction process to license PALs in the 3.5 GHz band.  In light of this, and to ensure that PAL licenses can be obtained by “both established wireless and new investors with novel business models,”[28] GeoLinks recommends that the Commission establish a set of bidding credits designed to put potential bidders on equal footing.  Some suggestions for bidding credits include the following.

i. Small Service Provider Bidding Credit

Many small and mid-sized service providers lack the large amounts of capital generally necessary to compete in spectrum incentive auctions leaving them behind and unable to compete with larger carriers in the same spectrum bands.  This disadvantages rural areas where many of these small and mid-sized carriers operate (and wish to invest in additional broadband deployment).  In order to put these smaller operators on equal footing with larger operators, GeoLinks suggests a generous bidding credit for carriers with fewer than 10,000 customers.[29]

ii. Rural Broadband Bidding Credit

GeoLinks believes that the 3.5 GHz band is well suited for a multitude of rural broadband services that will help in the Commission’s goal of closing the digital divide.  However, this will only occur if the policies surrounding allocation of the 3.5. GHz band PALs are crafted in a way that encourages such deployment.  This includes giving smaller service providers, that may focus their service offerings on rural areas, opportunities to obtain spectrum sufficient to offer high speed broadband to these areas – smaller providers that likely do not have the capital that the large mobile carriers do in order to afford such spectrum.  GeoLinks suggests that the Commission create a generous bidding credit for service providers that commit to serve rural areas within the PAL license area.  Specifically, GeoLinks suggests that those service providers that bid on rural areas, including areas containing CAF II Auction eligible areas, and commit to serving a certain number of locations within such area be given such a bidding credit.  The Company also suggests that such bidding credits be subject to ongoing reporting regarding rural service deployment over the 3.5 GHz band.

iii. Connect America Fund Phase II Awardee Bidding Credit

In its opening comments, GeoLinks proposed that Connect America Fund Phase II (“CAF II”) awardees (or, depending on timing, CAF II applicants that pass the short form phase of the application process) that rely on spectrum resources be allowed “first crack” at a PAL covering applicable eligible areas.[30]  GeoLinks believes that this “first crack” could be in the form of a bidding credit applicable towards PALs in the 3.5 GHz Band.  As awardees will already be committing to serve 95% of rural locations within eligible CAF II areas, this credit could be paired with the rural bidding credit.

iv. Wholesale Bidding Credit

Another bidding credit GeoLinks suggests is a credit for those PAL holders that are willing to offer access to PAL spectrum on a wholesale basis to other service providers, either in the same areas as the PAL holder offers its services or in areas throughout the PAL license areas where the PAL holder cannot or does not wish to deploy services.

v. PAL Awardee Payment Options

In addition to the bidding credits set forth above, and any others the Commission may determine are in the public interest, GeoLinks suggests that the Commission implement a process by which smaller PAL recipients can pay for their spectrum licenses in installments over the length of the PAL period.  This will allow bidders with less upfront capitol to expend on spectrum (generally small and mid-sized carriers) to acquire and pay as the spectrum is utilized and services are deployed.  GeoLinks suggests that failure of a PAL recipient to make timely payments under such a payment option should result in relinquishment or forced relinquishment, partition and/ or disaggregation.  GeoLinks suggests that applicants who qualify for the “small Service Provider” bidding credit, for example, should qualify for extended payment.

III. CONCLUSION

In conclusion, GeoLinks urges the Commission to adopt rules with respect to spectrum licensing in the 3.5 GHz band that do not close off the band to fixed wireless service providers, ensure efficient use of the band, and promote broadband deployment and competition in both urban and rural areas.

 

Respectfully submitted,

GEOLINKS, LLC

 

/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer

/s/ Melissa Slawson, General Counsel/ V.P of Government Affairs and Education

 

January 29, 2018

[1] Notice and Order at para. 2.
[2] See Ajit Pai, Chairman, FCC Remarks on Restoring Internet Freedom (Nov. 28, 2017) (“We have no business picking winners and losers in the marketplace”).
[3] See Comments of Open Technology Institute at New America and Public Knowledge, GN Docket No. 17-258 (filed Dec. 28, 2017), at 23 (“OTI & PK Comments”).
[4] Data based on 2010 Census data, available at https://www.fcc.gov/oet/maps/areas (last visited January 29, 2018).
[5] See generally Comments of AT&T Services, Inc., GN Docket No. 17-258 (filed Dec. 28, 2017) (“AT&T Comments”), Comments of United States Cellular Corporation, GN Docket No. 17-258 (filed Dec. 28, 2017), Comments of Mobile Future, GN Docket No. 17-258 (filed Dec. 28, 2017), Comments of T-Mobile USA, Inc., GN Docket No. 17-258 (filed Dec. 28, 2017) (“T-Mobile Comments”), etc.
[6] Comments of NCTA – the Internet & Television Association, GN Docket No. 17-258 (filed Dec. 28, 2017), at 4 (“NCTA Comments”).
[7] Id. at 5
[8] Id. at 9.
[9] AT&T Comments at 3, citing Comments of Ericsson, GN Docket No. 12-354 (filed July 24, 2017), at 6.
[10] T-Mobile Comments at 4, citing the Notice and Order at para 13.
[11] Comments of the Rural Wireless Association, GN Docket No. 17-258 (filed Dec. 28, 2017) at 7 (“RWA Comments”).
[12] See NCTA Comments at 13.
[13] 47 U.S.C. §309(j)(3).
[14] Comments of Google LLC, GN Docket No. 17-258 (filed Dec. 28, 2017), at 2 (“Google Comments”).
[15] Id. at 3; see also NCTA Comments at 4, “NCTA continues to believe that the Commission should design its licensing rules in this innovation band to enable investment by a wide variety of market participants.”
[16] AT&T Comments at 7.
[17] See Comments of GeoLinks, GN Docket 17-258 (filed Dec. 28, 2017) at 3 (“GeoLinks Comments”).
[18] See OTI & PK Comments at 6.
[19] AT&T Comments at 8
[20] Google Comments at 19.
[21] See e.g. Comments of the General Elective Company, GN Docket No. 17-258 (filed Dec. 28, 2017), at 23 and OTI & PK Comments at 22.
[22] GeoLinks Comments at 4.
[23] T-Mobile Comments at 7.
[24] OTI & PK Comments at 20.
[25] GeoLinks Comments at 5.
[26] See RWA Comments at 10.
[27] Reply Comments of GeoLinks, GN Docket N. 17-183 (filed Nov. 15, 2017), at 3.
[28] Google Comments at 2.
[29] This suggestion goes beyond the bidding credits implemented in 600 MHz Band (Incentive Auction), See Updating Part 1 Competitive Bidding Rules et al., WT Docket No. 14-170 et al., Report and Order, 30 FCC Rcd 7493 (2017).  GeoLinks is open to other metrics for determining what is considered a “small service provider” but believes that the metric should be smaller than what was proposed for the 600 MHz Band or that the bidding credit should increase incrementally the fewer customers a service provider has.
[30] GeoLinks Comments at 7.
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Connect America Fund Phase II, Auction Connect America Fund

Before the Federal Communications Commission
Washington, DC 20554
In the Matter of Connect America Fund Phase II Auction Connect America Fund
AU Docket No. 17-182 | WC Docket No. 10-90

REPLY COMMENTS OF GEOLINKS

California Internet, L.P. DBA GeoLinks (“GeoLinks” or the “Company”) submits these reply comments in response to comments filed on the Public Notice issued August 4, 2017 in the aforementioned dockets.

I. INTRODUCTION AND SUMMARY

GeoLinks is proud to service the largest coverage area of any single fixed wireless Internet service provider in the state the California. As the Company expands, it strives to reach unserved and rural areas within California and beyond, including schools, libraries and residential areas. GeoLinks provides these reply comments in response to comments filed on the proposed procedures to be used in the Connect America Fund II Auction (“Phase II Auction”) and to emphasize the Company’s goal to promote robust broadband deployment in unserved and rural areas across the United States.

II. DISCUSSION

A. The Commission Should Craft a Straightforward Process for the Phase II Auction That Encourages Participation from Small and Mid-Sized Service Providers

GeoLinks commends the Commission on its efforts to develop rules for the pre-auction process for the Phase II Auction. The Company believes that the Phase II Auction has the potential to ensure broadband deployment to some of the most remote areas of the country and further the Commission’s goals of connecting rural America to high-speed broadband access. However, GeoLinks agrees with the American Cable Association (“ACA”) that aspects of the auction processes proposed in the Public Notice, although potentially sound in some ways, may have the effect of turning off many serious bidders and enabling only larger interests to win bids at higher bid amounts. To avoid this outcome, the Commission must develop pre-auction rules that encourage “vigorous bidding by multiple providers, thereby driving prices lower to efficient levels.”

i. The Proposed Financial Qualifications Metrics Posed in the Public Notice Will Not Promote Robust Bidding in the Phase II Auction

The Public Notice proposes a five-point financial qualification assessment scale to help staff determine whether an applicant satisfactorily demonstrates its financial qualifications prior to the Phase II Auction. Specifically, the Public Notice explains that an applicant with a score of less than three points on this scale “would warrant a more in-depth review of the full set of financial statements submitted with the short-form application, as well as other information, to determine whether the application is qualified to bid the Phase II auction.” While GeoLinks agrees with commenters that the Commission is wise to seek to ensure that an applicant is financially qualified prior to participating in the auction process, GeoLinks echoes the concern of ITTA – The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers (“ITTA”) that the Commission’s current proposal is “overkill with respect to companies that have provided voice and/or broadband services for at least two years.” GeoLinks urges the Commission to recognize that these financial qualification metrics, as proposed, will preclude many small to mid-sized wireless broadband providers from bidding on Phase II Auction areas – providers that are well suited to serve far-reaching rural areas, generally at a lower cost than traditional, large providers.

As an initial matter, GeoLinks agrees with ITTA’s assessment that providers of telecommunications infrastructure routinely leverage debt to fund significant capital expenditures to expand and upgrade networks. For this reason, most telecommunications carriers that invest in their own networks would not clear the thresholds for at least the last two of the metrics proposed by the Public Notice. This is true not just for small and mid-sized broadband providers, but for many large providers, as well. Specifically, as the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (“WISPA”) points out, “every price cap carrier that is already receiving CAF support would fail the Commission’s test.”

GeoLinks agrees with WISPA that “if large, well-established price cap carriers cannot meet the Commission’s test, then it is highly probable that a vast number of potential smaller bidders would similarly fall short.” It seems clear that if the same providers that were eligible to receive multi-million-dollar CAF awards during the first phase of funding disbursement would now be ineligible to receive CAF awards during a subsequent phase, the proposed process warrants further review. In addition, as WISPA explains, such a process would have the effect of rewarding applicants that do not routinely reinvest capital in their own networks.

GeoLinks believes that a better metric for measuring whether a broadband provider possesses the requisite financial qualifications for initial consideration for Phase II Auction funding would be a showing in the short-form application that the applicant has provided voice and/or broadband services for at least two years. As ITTA explains, this measure was previously adopted by the Commission in the Phase II Auction Order to “provide assurance to the Commission that the entities that intend to bid in the auction have some experience operating networks or are otherwise financially qualified,” and to “provide the Commission with sufficient assurance before the auction that an entity has at a minimum level demonstrated that it has the ability to build and maintain a network.”

ii. The Commission Should Not Restrict the Use of Consultants Among Small and Mid-Sized Broadband Service Providers

The Public Notice seeks comment on procedures to prevent competitive harm that could occur from coordinated bidding. As part of this effort, the Commission specifically explains that the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau has expressed concerns regarding employing the same third-party consultant as other applicants despite the requirement that an applicant “takes appropriate steps to ensure that any third party it employs for advice pertaining to its bids of bidding strategies does not become a conduit for prohibited communications to other covered entities unless parties to a joint bidding agreement.” While GeoLinks supports the goal to prevent waste, fraud and abuse of Universal Service Fund resources, the company agrees with the Rural Wireless Association, Inc. (“RWA”) that the Commission must be careful not to adopt restrictions that limit the ability of small and mid-sized carriers to rely on qualified consultants when participating in the Phase II Auction.

As an initial matter, small to mid-sized providers generally do not have dedicated auction experts in house. To be on equal footing with larger carriers that may have such internal personnel assets, it is important that small to mid-sized applicants be able to turn to third-party expert assistance (consultants, experts, and attorneys) in developing their Phase II Auction applications. Given the Commission’s stated goal of encouraging participation in the Phase II Auction from a broad range of providers, the Commission should recognize that there are likely to be far more applicants than consultants with the requisite expertise to provide effective counsel. In order for providers to get the expert advice needed to prepare an effective application at affordable rates, GeoLinks agrees with WISPA, ACA, and NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association that the Commission should allow applicants to “share the costs of a single expert” in order to “encourage greater participation by smaller entities and allow them to compete against larger providers on a more level playing field.”

In order to mitigate the uncertainty that such consultant sharing may cause, GeoLinks supports WISPA’s suggestion that the Commission “adopt a ‘safe harbor’ of conduct that will be deemed to not be a violation of the Commission’s anti-collusion rules.” Specifically, the Company believes that so long as the consultant does not advise another applicant bidding for the same census block group, there should be a presumption that safeguards have been established to ensure the consultant is not acting as a conduit for prohibited communications between or among bidders, pursuant to the Commission’s rules.

B. The Commission Should Craft Spectrum Policy to Benefit Eligible Phase II Auction Areas

As expressed in its opening comments, GeoLinks believes that the Phase II Auction presents an opportunity for the Commission to develop spectrum licensing policies specifically focused on unserved and rural areas. To meet the goals of the Phase II Auction Order, GeoLinks urges the Commission to allow Phase II Auction awardees the opportunity to obtain priority access to spectrum resources with which to serve these eligible areas. Specifically, GeoLinks urges the Commission to i) allow awardees to obtain spectrum resources sufficient enough allow robust point-to-multipoint (“P2MP”) services (for gigabit plus capacity) award these resources on either a “light licensed” or Part 101 basis, and iii) create spectrum license periods and renewal options that allow for investment in the equipment necessary to utilize them. New policies to this effect will allow wireless broadband providers flexibility in how they develop and design networks to meet the needs of the Phase II Auction eligible areas resulting in better application proposals and lower costs.

In addition to this forward-looking spectrum policy, GeoLinks urges the Commission not to create policy that could potentially hinder WISP participation in the auction process. In the Public Notice, the Commission proposes to require each applicant that intends to use radio frequency spectrum to submit information regarding the sufficiency of the spectrum to which it has access to aid the Commission in determining applicants’ capability to meet the public interest requirements of the Phase II Auction. As several commenters have observed, the Commission only proposes to subject applicants proposing to use spectrum to this requirement. As WISPA points out, “the Commission is not proposing to require an applicant proposing to use fiber to demonstrate that it has access to rights-of-way or utility poles for the 10-year CAF Phase II support term,” which, WISPA explains, is “in contravention to the Commission’s stated desire to have technology neutral rules that promote participation by a broad range of bidders.” GeoLinks agrees with WISPA’s suggestion that the Commission can remedy this disparity “by establishing a ‘safe harbor’ for any applicant proposing to use any licensed or unlicensed bands that historically have been used to provide the performance tier selected.”

Along a similar vein, GeoLinks urges the Commission to reject the Rural Coalition’s suggestion that it should require applicants proposing to rely on spectrum (and only those applicants) to submit propagation maps of their planned coverage areas as part of their shortform applications. This proposed requirement is similarly contrary to the Commission’s technology neutral goals but goes one step further to suggest that WISPs are not capable of designing a network utilizing existing spectrum resources despite the fact that most WISPs have been doing so, very successfully, for many years now.

Additionally, GeoLinks agrees with WISPA’s suggestion that the Commission should explicitly state that applicants may propose to use more than one spectrum resource to provide the services proposed in their application(s). GeoLinks has had success using licensed spectrum in the 6 GHz and 11 GHz bands for point-to-point wireless connections for a variety of users but has also broadly utilized spectrum in the unlicensed bands to provide service to its customers – primarily in the 2.4 and 5 GHz bands. In addition, GeoLinks is in the process of assessing new bands that it might be able to use for expanded service offerings (especially P2MP services). The band (or bands) an applicant will choose to utilize depends on a variety of factors including distance between connections, available licenses, building and subscriber density, equipment options, etc. Just as a traditional wired broadband service provider may use different network elements to deliver service, wireless providers do the same and should, therefore, not be precluded from using all the tools available to them to craft a proposed service solution for eligible areas.

III. CONCLUSION

In conclusion, GeoLinks urges the Commission to develop rules for the Phase II Auction in ways that will provide the greatest benefit to unserved, rural areas. Specifically, GeoLinks urges the Commission to avoid auction procedures that will place small to mid-sized wireless broadband providers at a disadvantage and create spectrum policy to benefit Phase II Auction areas.

Respectfully submitted,

GEOLINKS, LLC

/s/ Skyler Ditchfield, Chief Executive Officer

/s/ Melissa Slawson, General Counsel/ V.P of Government Sales and Education

October 18, 2017

Footnotes that appear in the formal document:

1 Comments of American Cable Association, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017) (“ACA Comments”), at 5. 2 See ACA Comments at 6. 3 Public Notice at para. 58. 4 Comments of ITTA – The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017) (“ITTA Comments”), at 2. 5 ITTA Comments at 4. 6 See ITTA Comments at 4. These metrics are: “(3) current ratio (i.e., current assets divided by current liabilities), where a ratio greater than or equal to 2 would receive one point; and (4) total equity divided by total capital, where a result greater or equal to 0.5 would receive one point.” Public Notice at para. 59. 7 Comments of Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017) (“WISPA Comments”), at v. 8 WISPA Comments at 22. 9 WISPA Comments at 22. 10 ITTA Comments at 2-3 citing Connect America Fund; ETC Annual Reports and Certifications; Rural Broadband Experiments, Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, 31 FCC Rcd 5949, 5985, para. 106 (2016) (“Phase II Auction Order”).11 Public Notice at para. 21. 12 Comments of Rural Wireless Association, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017) (“RWA Comments”), at 4-5. 13 See WISPA Comments at 4-5, citing Letter from Ross Lieberman (ACA), Michael Romano (NTCA) and Stephen Coran (WISPA) to The Hon. Chairman Ajit Pai, et al., AU Docket No. 17-182 and WC Docket No. 10-90 (filed Sept. 15, 2017). 14 WISPA Comments at 5. 15 See WISPA Comments at 5. 16 GeoLinks notes that if small to mid-sized wireless providers were given priority licensing access to sufficient spectrum for P2MP services in the 3.7-4.2 GHz or 6.0-6.4 GHz bands, the Company estimates that these carriers could deliver gigabit+ service at 1/10th the cost of fiber providers (or less). 17 See Public Notice at para. 37. 18 WISPA Comments at 14-15. 19 WISPA Comments at 15. 20 See Comments of the Rural Coalition, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017), at 19. 21 WISPA Comments at 15-16. 22 These new bands include TV White Spaces spectrum, which GeoLinks agrees with Microsoft Corporation should be added to the list of suitable spectrum bands in Appendix B of the Public Notice. See Comments of Microsoft Corporation, WC Docket No. 10-90 and AU Docket No. 17-182 (filed Sept. 18, 2017), at 4-5.

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