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State regulators will continue using FCC broadband reports

PIERRE -- Telecommunications providers in South Dakota who seek federal high-cost support can continue to file the same reports to the state Public Utilities Commission as they provide to the Federal Communications System, including information a...

PIERRE - Telecommunications providers in South Dakota who seek federal high-cost support can continue to file the same reports to the state Public Utilities Commission as they provide to the Federal Communications System, including information about their deployment of broadband services, the state commission members decided Tuesday.

The state commission set the general framework starting in 2013 as a way to avoid duplication of efforts by the companies, and added the requirements regarding data on broadband deployment in May 2015.

The companies file reports to the FCC regarding their two-year improvement plans for using the federal high-cost support. The broadband information is contained in what are called Form 477 data. The state commission receives that information from the companies.

Form 477 data cover broadband information such as number of connections by speed tier and percentage of connections that are residential

PUC chairman Chris Nelson thanked the state commission's staff for raising the question whether to continue accepting the federal filings for the state commission's purposes. Nelson said it is "most appropriate" to stay on the same path for now.

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"I think next year we may want to make some changes given how things will progress at the federal level and some other things going on," Nelson said.

The state commission previously asked its staff to develop maps showing penetration and levels of broadband services but found the data didn't match well.

A staff memo to the PUC last year said, in part, "The majority of useful information is provided by census tracts, which simply don't line up well with (telephone) exchange boundaries."

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