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Friday, August 03, 2007

Glass half empty

I've been very happy with the way that the approval process has been going: the PIA reviews got going early, and have kept moving at a good pace, the vast majority of my clients have made it through the process, and even some Priority 2 applications have been approved.

Then a number jumped out at me from today's SLD News Brief: $926 million in funding approved. With the extra cash which the FCC unfairly rolled over into this year, that's less than one third of the fund.

I remember going to a USAC board meeting where they almost hit a target of 80% of all apps processed by June 30. At the time, I remember thinking that the target should be 100%, but now 80% seems to good to be true. I thought this year was going well, but I can see that the glass was half empty. Well, actually, five-sixths empty, since only $458 million (less than one sixth of the fund) had been approved by the start of the funding year.

Mel Blackwell needs to stand up and say that all Telecom Services, Internet Access or Basic Maintenance FRNs should be funded by June 30. Ideally, they should be funded by May 31, so the service providers have time to set up their accounting systems to discount. As an interim goal, 70% of apps should be processed by May 31, 90% by June 30.

Basic maintenance is a problem since it's Priority 2, but if they sent out FCDLs that say something like "Will be funded if funds are available" (instead of "As yet unfunded"), I think we could count that as an application processed. Even better, move Basic Maintenance to Priority 1, or pre-fund Priority 2.

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