These Carriers Get First Rip & Replace Reimbursement Priority

UPDATE A total of 85 entities are considered “first priority” in the FCC’s Rip & Replace reimbursement program. Several providers filed multiple applications.

Congress initially allocated $1.9 billion to reimburse carriers for removing untrusted gear from Huawei and ZTE from their networks. To fund all “reasonable and supported” cost estimates within the first prioritization group and cover administrative expenses, the reimbursement program will require $4.7 billion, reflecting a current shortfall of $2.8 billion, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel told Congress, Inside Towers reported. 

Under the law set out by Congress, the FCC would allocate funding first to approved applicants that have two million or fewer customers. The shortfall means the amount asked for in the first priority group exceeds demand. As a result, the first Rip & Replace reimbursement costs “will be approximately 39.5 percent of demand,” according to the Commission.   

Chief among those that filed multiple requests was NE Colorado Cellular Inc, with 22 approved applications for a total of more than $440 million in initial reimbursement funds. Point Broadband Fiber Holding, with five applications, received approximately $20.8 million, and Skybeam, with four applications, received a total of close to $35 million.

Most entities applied for a single monetary amount. Of those, Gogo Business Aviation LLC received the most initial amount, at just over $131 million. Stealth Communications came in second in this group, at more than $76 million and Windstream Communications LLC in third at more than $46 million.

The smallest initial amounts went to Angeles Enterprises and Webformix Internet Company. They both received about $8,000.

After eligible providers receive funding allocations and incur actual costs, they may begin filing reimbursement claims along with supporting invoices and other cost documentation to draw from their allocations. Each reimbursement program recipient must file at least one claim to receive a funding disbursement within one year of the approval of its request.

The Commission’s rules require reimbursement participants to complete the removal, replacement, and disposal process within one year from the initial disbursement of funds. They must provide the agency with status updates every 90 days.

By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief

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