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Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Quick, hide that cell phone!

I think the "bundled components" NPRM could be the first NPRM in a while to actually move me to comment. So I was perusing the order, and I was looking at the Appendix, which has all that dense regulatory verbiage that no one reads.  I flipped to the "Description and Estimate of the Number of Small Entities to Which the Proposed Rules May Apply" section, to see if the FCC was listing E-Rate consultants there yet (alas, no), when I stumbled across this dichotomy:
Paragraph 2: "[W]e propose to clarify that beginning with ... fund year 2014, any ineligible components must be cost allocated...."
Paragraph 24: "E-[R]ate recipients had been required to cost allocate ineligible components bundled with eligible services prior to the Gift Rule Clarification Order.... Thus this order merely removes a short-term exemption...."

The first quote is fine, making it clear that there won't be any changes before 2014, but that second quote is chilling.  It seems to be saying that before the Gift Rule Clarification Order came along, applicants were required to cost-allocate the value of cell phone handsets out of any cell phone service funding requests.  If anyone at USAC reads to paragraph 24 of the Appendix and takes it as a mandate for action, we could see a COMAD jihad, recovering funding from every cell phone FRN for FY 2008 (the earliest year inside the 5-year lookback limit) to FY 2010 (since the Gift Rule Clarification Order kicked in for FY 2011).

That witch hunt would mean tens of thousands of COMADs.  But I'll bet it wouldn't collect enough to cover the P2 funding shortfall.

Hopefully no one from USAC will notice that paragraph.  Or read this post.

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