Eligible Locations Adjustment Process (ELAP)
The Connect America Fund Phase II Auction program, commonly referred to as “CAF II Auction,” provides funding to carriers to deliver voice and broadband service to a certain number of locations in certain High Cost areas served by an incumbent price cap carrier. As of September 2020, the FCC had authorized more than $1.47 billion in support over 10 years to 194 winning carriers in a 2018 competitive bidding process (Auction 903) to bring service to a total of 702,745 qualifying locations in 45 states. Learn more.
The FCC Wireline Competition Bureau has established a voluntary challenge process – the Eligible Locations Adjustment Process (ELAP) – to facilitate post-auction review and potential adjustment of the defined CAF II Auction deployment obligations (and associated support) on a state-by-state basis if the total number of locations funded by the program exceeds the number of actual locations.
USAC, in conjunction with the FCC, has designed an online portal – called the ELAP module – to accept ELAP information from CAF II Auction support recipients seeking to participate in the process (Participants), as well as individuals, entities and governing authorities that have demonstrated a direct and verifiable interest in obtaining funded service within the Participant’s service area (Stakeholders) and want to submit challenges.
How It Works
PARTICIPANT SUBMISSION: ELAP will start with a one-time collection from Participants of certain “location information” (e.g., address, latitude/longitude coordinates, number of units) for all qualifying CAF II Auction locations for a state. Qualifying locations include residential housing units or small businesses served by mass-market Internet service. Participants may also submit location information for prospective locations, which are any locations that are not yet qualifying but that the carrier may want to serve at some point in the future and therefore still count toward its total defined build-out obligation for the six-year CAF II Auction deployment timeline. Qualifying locations and prospective locations, collectively, are referred to as “eligible locations.” In addition, Participants may submit location information for locations that they have identified as ineligible, as well as a short description of why such locations should be treated as ineligible. Participants must also submit evidence that no further qualifying locations could be found.
As part of this process, Participants must submit a description of the methodology used to identify all eligible locations and supporting evidence demonstrating that they took the steps described in their methodology throughout their service area, or an explanation of why supporting evidence is unavailable or unnecessary. Examples of acceptable supporting evidence include web-based photography, print outs from E911 and tax databases and real estate records. Participants will upload a CSV (comma separated values) file with this location information into the ELAP Module using a template provided by USAC, along with a description of their methodology and supporting documentation.
The Participant submission filing window closes on Aug. 3, 2021.
PRIMA FACIE DETERMINATIONS AND PUBLICATION OF LOCATION INFORMATION. After the Participant submission filing window closes, the FCC will release a list of Participants that have provided the necessary information to take part in ELAP, along with certain location information in their filings. USAC will then use certain location information in these filings to populate a public map, the ELAP Map, so that prospective Stakeholders can review the information and determine whether to submit challenges.
PROSPECTIVE STAKEHOLDER ELIGIBILITY DETERMINATION. Prospective Stakeholders must establish their identity and eligibility to participate in ELAP. To qualify, individuals or entities must demonstrate that they have a direct interest in obtaining funded service within the service area (i.e., a property or relevant commercial interest). They must also certify that they do not hold a controlling interest in a competitive service provider. Governing authorities must establish that their jurisdiction covers at least some part of the service area.
USAC will collect certain information from prospective Stakeholders necessary to verify eligibility and identity using a third-party commercial verifier. The FCC will announce a deadline (prior to the opening of the Stakeholder challenge window) for prospective Stakeholders to submit this information to USAC. After this deadline passes, the ELAP Map will no longer be publicly available.
ACCESS TO CONFIDENTIAL INFORMATION: Stakeholders may want to access information in the Participant’s ELAP submissions that is not publicly available and presumptively confidential, such as the Participant’s methodology for identifying eligible locations and supporting evidence files. They may only do so under the terms and conditions of an FCC Protective Order and the ELAP Order. Likewise, Participants can only access information submitted by relevant Stakeholders under the terms and conditions of an FCC Protective Order. Information submitted by Stakeholders will be treated as presumptively confidential, except for information used to update the limited-access ELAP Map, as described below.
STAKEHOLDER CHALLENGE: Following the publication of the ELAP Map, Stakeholders will have the opportunity to participate in the challenge process. Challengers must supply location information (addresses, geo-coordinates and number of units) for locations that they have identified as missing from, or inaccurately reported in, the Participants’ filings. Stakeholders must separately identify qualifying locations and prospective locations, and provide a description of the methods used to identify the locations and some supporting evidence.
Certain location information submitted by Stakeholders will be used to further populate the ELAP Map, which will be made available to the relevant Participant and to any other Stakeholders filing challenges in the same service area. The ELAP Map will be updated as soon as the information is processed, but Participants cannot submit responses to challenges during the Stakeholder challenge window.
PARTICIPANT RESPONSE: After the challenge window closes, Participants facing an ELAP challenge will have the opportunity to access and review certified data submitted by Stakeholders and to submit additional information in response to challenges through the ELAP module. Participants that do not oppose a Stakeholder challenge need not submit any additional information. Participants cannot submit any additional information after the response window closes.
ADJUDICATION: After the response window closes, the FCC will adjudicate all ELAP requests for adjustment of defined deployment obligations based on the “preponderance of the evidence” standard. This means that the FCC will only adjust deployment obligations (and associated support and Letter of Credit obligations) if, based on the record, it is more likely than not that the defined deployment obligation is greater than the number of actual locations within a state. The FCC will issue adjudication orders on a rolling basis as decisions are made. While the FCC may adjust defined deployment obligations under this process, Participants are not required to serve every eligible location specifically identified through the ELAP process. They must, however, meet any adjusted defined deployment obligations in accordance with program requirements.