NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association and the Utah Rural Telecom Association have submitted a petition to the FCC to clarify the new rules for designating E-rate applicants as either rural or urban (you can download a copy of the petition here).
Since rural E-rate applicants can receive a higher E-rate discount than urban applicants (see the E-rate discount matrices here), shifting from the rural status to urban could result in a decrease of E-rate funding for some applicants. The petition seeks clarification from the FCC as to whether only areas defined as “urbanized areas” by the U.S. Census will be considered urban, or if “urban clusters” (which are more sparsely populated) will also be defined as urban for E-rate purposes. Justin A. Volker provided an insightful guest article for our site on this subject here.
If the FCC has indeed intended to define urban clusters as urban areas, the petition asks the FCC to reconsider that definition due to the financial impact it would have on affected applicants.