FCC Seeks Comment on Changes to Rip and Replace Rules

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) has adopted a Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (“FNPRM”) in which it proposes to modify its supply chain “rip and replace” rules to make them consistent with the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 (“CAA”). Specifically, the FNPRM seeks comment on the following proposals:

A proposal to modify the rules to allow Reimbursement Program recipients to use reimbursement funds to remove, replace, or dispose of equipment or services that were purchased, rented, leased, or otherwise obtained on or before June 30, 2020.
A proposal to raise the eligibility for the Reimbursement Program to providers of advanced communications services with 10 million or fewer customers.
A proposal to replace the prioritization scheme from the Second Report and Order with the categories set forth in the CAA if the demand for funds exceeds the $1.895 appropriated by Congress.
A proposal to modify the acceptable use of reimbursement funds to include the removal, replacement, and disposal of equipment and services subject to the Huawei and ZTE Designation Orders.
A proposal to broaden the definition of “provider of advanced communications service” to fit the definition in the CAA.

Under the CAA, the prioritization would first go to approved applications from carriers that have 2,000,000 or fewer customers, then to approved applicants that are accredited public or private non-commercial education institutions providing their own facilities-based educational broadband services, and then to any remaining applicants determined to be eligible under the Reimbursement Program.

Comments will be due 21 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register and reply comments will be due 35 days after the date of publication in the Federal Register, which has not yet occurred. If you would like to file comments or have questions, please contact Dee Herman at dee@hermanwhiteaker.com, Clare Andonov at candonov@hermanwhiteaker.com, or Hilary Rosenthal at hrosenthal@hermanwhiteaker.com.