State regulators have shut the door for what might be the final time on a company that has been seeking a federal subsidy to provide broadband service in many under-served areas of South Dakota.
The South Dakota Public Utilities Commission on Tuesday decided to close the docket on LTD Broadband. The Minnesota company has been seeking designation by the state commission as an eligible telecommunications carrier so that it could receive federal funding.
South Dakota Telecommunications Association has been fighting against granting the designation, arguing that LTD Broadband lacked the financial wherewithal to accomplish the project.
The story is important in Minnesota because the Minnesota PUC is also looking at LTD Broadband’s status as an eligible telecommunications carrier (ETC). The ETC designation is (or maybe was) important when LTD Broadband applied for larger amounts of federal (RDOF) funding because ETC was required by those receiving funding. LTD Broadband was awarded the opportunity to apply for the funds but as since been disqualified.
So one might ask why the ETC designation is still an issue. In South Dakota, they want to make sure that unresolved issues do not leave South Dakota in a precarious position in the future…
The state commission’s chairman, Chris Nelson, said Tuesday that the state commission had “bent over backwards” to allow LTD Broadband to make its case. “We’ve gone a long distance trying to make this thing work,” he said.
Nelson noted that the FCC staff has reached the same conclusion that the state commission had and said he doesn’t think the federal commission will overturn its staff’s decision. Nelson said he doesn’t want an unresolved issue of LTD Broadband’s eligibility to cloud future funding opportunities for other companies seeking to deliver broadband in South Dakota.