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Voice and high-speed broadband support coming to rural Washington

Docket Numbers: UT-210167, UT-210139, UT-210008, UT-210043, UT-210149, UT-180763, UT-201008, UT-210101, UT-210059

UTC approves eligible telecommunication carrier status for nine companies 

LACEY, Wash. - State regulators approved nine companies to become designated eligible telecommunication carriers (ETC) — the first step in approving federal support for improving voice and high-speed broadband access in rural Washington.

Companies applied for ETC status after conditionally winning $22.3 million in annual support through the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) over the next 10 years, contingent on them receiving ETC status by June 7, 2021 and then being authorized by the FCC. Companies will use this universal service support to expand voice and broadband access to 100,422 unserved customers in 37 of Washington’s 39 counties. The only counties not included at this time are Pend Oreille and Stevens.

The companies approved as ETCs are:

  • Cable One VoIP LLC
  • CenturyLink Communications LLC d/b/a Lumen Technologies Group
  • Charter Fiberlink WA – CCVII, LLC
  • Columbia Energy, LLC
  • Commnet Wireless, LLC
  • Computer 5, Inc. d/b/a “LocalTel Communications” and “SkyFi Highspeed Wireless Internet”
  • Frontier Communications Northwest, LLC d/b/a Ziply Fiber
  • NW Fiber, LLC
  • Starlink Services, LLC

Program recipients must offer voice and broadband service that supports real-time use, is priced reasonably and comparably to urban services, and meets deployment benchmarks over the 10-year support period.

The FCC awards RDOF support through a reverse auction process, where companies bid for the chance to provide service and receive support in specific locations the FCC has identified as unserved. The companies must also meet established baseline financial, operational, and technical standards.

The UTC has the authority to designate carriers as ETCs under the Telecommunications Act of 1996.

The commission is the state agency charged with regulating the rates and services of telephone companies operating in Washington as well as promoting a competitive telecommunications marketplace. It is the commission’s responsibility to ensure regulated companies provide safe and reliable service to customers at reasonable rates, while allowing them the opportunity to earn a fair profit. The commission does not regulate the rates of broadband services, cellular, cable, or Internet service.