Idaho Public Utilities Commission

Case No. TMW-T-10-01, Order No. 32581

June 26, 2012

Contact: Gene Fadness (208) 334-0339, 890-2712


T-Mobile granted conditional ETC status for unserved areas


The Idaho Public Utilities Commission granted T-Mobile West LLC’s application for conditional eligible telecommunication carrier (ETC) status, allowing the company to compete for federal dollars to accelerate deployment of cellular and broadband services in unserved areas of Idaho.


ETC status qualifies T-Mobile to receive federal support to help consumers in rural areas where it costs more to provide a telecommunications network. In this application, T-Mobile sought conditional ETC status in areas not receiving wireless voice or broadband service. 


The conditional ETC designation allows T-Mobile to compete in a Federal Communications Commission auction for one-time federal support.


Last November, the FCC created the Connect America Fund, which reforms the Universal Service Fund. The USF was created to make telephone service available at reasonable cost in rural areas. The Connect America Fund was created from savings and efficiencies within the Universal Service Fund to provide cellular and high-speed Internet service in rural areas.  Idaho residential customers pay 12 cents per month per residential line and business customers 19 cents per month into the federal fund. There is also a charge of three-tenths of 1 cent per long-distance minute to support the fund.    


Part of the Connect America Fund is the Mobility Fund, which will provide up to $300 million through an FCC auction on Sept. 27 to accelerate deployment of next generation 3G or better cellular and broadband networks in unserved areas of the country. As a prerequisite for bidding in the FCC auction, T-Mobile must have conditional ETC designation in all the census blocks for which it will submit a bid.


A commission staff analysis determined there are about 43,200 Idahoans residing in 39 counties with areas that do not have access to wireless voice and/or broadband service. 


“The expansion of broadband and voice services throughout Idaho will provide direct and substantial benefits to Idaho residents,” the commission said. 


Other providers with applications pending before the commission for conditional ETC status to participate in the FCC’s Mobility Fund auction are Allied Wireless Communications and Syringa Wireless LLC.