“How do you bid on getting some of the CAF money not knowing how much it is going to cost you to get the network,” said Earle MacKenzie, the now-retired CEO of Shentel? Speaking at the 2017 Independent Show, MacKenzie was referring to the challenges of navigating multiple rules and, in some cases, cost-prohibitive pole attachments in dealing with different rural municipalities.
In the above interview, MacKenzie hints that Shentel was considering not bidding for CAF II funding and this seems to be borne out, as Shentel’s name does not appear on the FCC’s list of CAF II award winners (PDF). This is significant, as according to MacKenzie, there are some 250,000 homes in Virginia without access to even DSL-level service.
And Shentel is a significant player, relative to most ACA/NCTC members, as it is a $2B revenue provider of wireless, cable, telephone and broadband services, so it is probably easier for it to navigate the regulatory process than a smaller operator. MacKenzie suggests a national policy that emanates from Congress is necessary to deal with the ongoing challenges of pole attachments and to reduce uncertainty and speed broadband deployment.
[added 8/6/20 – Cablefax’s awarded Earle its 2020 Independent Lifetime Achievement. Amy Maclean provides an excellent overview of Earle’s contributions to the industry and to his community. Congratulations, Earle!]
TIS 17 Summit coverage brought to you by The Independent Show and ViodiTV.