In a somewhat surprising move, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (“Bureau”) released two Public Notices seeking comment on two appeals of the Bureau’s own cancellation of the Lifeline Broadband Provider designations issued only weeks ago. One notice seeks comment on the appeal filed by a large group of public interest organizations, and the second notice seeks comment on an appeal filed by Spot On Networks.
Given Chairman Pai’s noted lack of enthusiasm for the recently-reformed broadband Lifeline program, it is significant that the Bureau is gathering public comment on these appeals when it was under no obligation to do so. While we cannot be entirely sure of the Bureau’s motives in seeking comment on these petitions, it does represent an opportunity for interested parties to add to the debate that has been playing out in the press over the past few weeks about the Lifeline Broadband Provider designations process. Ultimately, the FCC may choose to not act on either petition but we think that these issues will be addressed in some way as the Pai administration further fleshes out its broadband deployment policies.
Comments for both petitions are due on March 16, 2017, with reply comments due on March 23, 2017.