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NCTA, ACA Back GCI Fiber Reporting Waiver

ACA Connects and NCTA-The Internet & Television Association are backing GCI Communications' request for a limited waiver from the FCC's fiber mapping requirements.

The FCC last month denied a request from GCI, which serves Alaska, for a waiver from the requirement that it provide maps of more than 2,500 miles of its aerial and buried fiber to an accuracy of 7.6 meters throughout the state with a 95% level of confidence.

GCI had said it could provide maps of its fiber within 50 meters at 80% level of confidence, but to meet the FCC's requirement it would have to "physically walk the length of buried fiber and trace the signal above ground and record the accurate location of sufficient poles (for aerial fiber) to validate and supplement any other sources of aerial fiber location information," to achieve the requisite level of confidence.

GCI again sought the waiver, and NCTA and ACA are backing that effort.

"There is no public interest justification that would require GCI to expend excessive resources to achieve the 7.6-meter reporting requirement for buried and aerial fiber," they told the commission.

As part of the FCC's Connect America Fund broadband subsidy program's Alaska Plan, GCI said it has provided the information within the requisite 7.6/95% parameters on the "thousands of nodes on which it was required to report," including “cell sites, central offices, schools, clinics, libraries, internet peering points, and other locations.” But it said that having to report on the fiber between those nodes is a bridge too far.

Related: GCi Blames Job Cuts Partly on FCC Subsidy Cutback 

NCTA and ACA second that notion.

"The purpose of filing maps of middle mile fiber facility locations is to show where Alaska Plan funding recipients may have increased performance commitments, not to ensure that funding has been used to bring broadband to a specific location," they told the FCC.

The FCC, in denying the waiver the first time around, said that the 7.6 meter standard was to ensure that the maps jibed with census boundary data given that the Alaska plan was census-block based.

"This purpose can be adequately achieved through the filing of node locations at 7.6 meter accuracy and with a less stringent 50 meter accuracy reporting for the fiber facilities running between those nodes, as GCI proposes," the trade groups said.

The bureau also pointed out that other providers were able to supply data at the appropriately granular levels, but ACA and NCTA said that the fact that some could did not mean the waiver should not be granted to GCI, which couldn't without "tremendous burden and expense."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.