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CostQuest and The CommLaw Group Join to Host Fine-Grained Webinar on Rural Digital Opportunity Fund

Drew Clark

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Photo by Larisa Koshkina used with permission

TYSONS, Virginia, and CINCINNATI, Ohio, April 14, 2020 – Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, The CommLaw Group, and CostQuest Associates have announced a free webinar, “How to Prepare and Effectively Bid in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction,” on Tuesday, May 5, 2020, at 12 Noon ET.

The webinar will be focused for companies that are thinking about bidding to win a share of the $20 billion in federal broadband funds from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction.

Building on the Connect America Fund reverse auction, the Federal Communications Commission is planning to conduct “Auction 904: Rural Digital Opportunity Fund,” beginning October 22, 2020.

The webinar is hosted by the “broadband fabric” data and mapping experts at CostQuest Associates and attorneys from Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, also known as The CommLaw Group.

The webinar is expected to give organizations the information they need to strategically assess their ability to bid for, win, and to offer broadband services through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

“Now is the time to get your ducks in a row,” said Jonathan S. Marashlian, managing partner at The CommLaw Group, speaking about the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund auction.

“Now is the time to ensure your company has access to the best data with which to evaluate the opportunity, formulate bidding strategies, and line up financing,” he said.

“The broadband serviceable location fabric have given us all a large step toward a vastly improved foundation for service availability identification and closing the digital divide,” James W. Stegman, CEO of the Cincinnati-based CostQuest, recently testified before Congress.

“If the fabric is to provide the critical foundation for these efforts, it will need to be made available across the U.S. and used … in programs like the forthcoming Rural Digital Opportunities Fund,” he said. “RDOF will clearly benefit from the improved targeting of funds as a result of its use.”

Mapping, legal and compliance knowledge well-honed toward Rural Digital Opportunity Fund applicants

The two entities hosting the webinar are among the most well-suited to help Rural Digital Opportunity Fund applicants succeed in the auction.

CostQuest has distinguished itself with its fine-grained tools for broadband mapping and analysis. The attorneys at the CommLaw Group and its sister company, The Commpliance Group, have helped hundreds of companies comply with the FCC’s Form 477, as well as fulfilling other broadband and telecommunications reporting and filing requirements.

In teaming up with CostQuest, the attorneys at The CommLaw Group will help providers of broadband services mitigate risk and maximize opportunity using unique data and expertise to make more accurate assessments.

For example, in a prior webinar CostQuest identified at least six important stets in assessing the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund potential:

  1. Basic Assessment
  2. Competitor Identification
  3. Competitor Cost Evaluation
  4. Competitor Speed and Latency Weighting Estimation
  5. Coverage Proximity and Cost Estimation
  6. Data Analysis and Reporting

The uses to which CostQuest data can be put are well demonstrated by the utility of the company’s “broadband fabric,” which incorporates tax assessor information, building polygon datasets and parcel boundaries to create geospatial reference for mapping broadband deployment.

While there is nothing bad about a shapefile-based approach, Stegeman has said: “You need an underlying fabric to determine what the shapefile means.”

Attorneys at The CommLaw Group have experience with FCC regulatory and compliance processes, with spectrum auctions and reverse auctions, and with the sub-census block components of broadband data and mapping necessary to make a successful bid in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Action.

The presenters at the webinar, which is free and open to all for registration, will walk potential applicants through a step-by-step guide that will help them evaluate, prepare for, strategize and participate in, and when successful, comply with the FCC rules and regulations applicable to fund recipients.

The agenda for the webinar is as follows:

  1. Introduction – What we have learned about reverse auctions through the Connect America Fund, and what is new about the RDOF.
  2. Timeline for Initial Regulatory Filings.
  3. Why good data is essential for a successful RDOF application, and what CostQuest data brings to your application.
  4. Assessment of broadband data in the context of your RDOF application, how you can obtain the support you need for your application, and post-grant compliance with FCC regulation.

To register for the webinar, please visit “How to Prepare and Effectively Bid in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Auction” to secure your spot on Tuesday, May 5, 2020 at 12 Noon ET.

Author Drew Clark, the Editor of Publisher of Broadband Breakfast, is also a telecommunications attorney at Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC, The CommLaw Group. Clark served as executive director of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, the State Broadband Initiative in the land of Lincoln. PCI engaged in broadband mapping and planning, infrastructure investment, and digital literacy training.

For more than a decade, Clark has been one of country’s leading voices advocating for improved broadband mapping efforts and a rational geospatial system for collecting broadband data. The CommLaw Group and its sister company, The Commpliance Group, have helped hundreds of companies comply with the Form 477 and other FCC requirements. See Clark’s article, “Broadband Maps Are a Mess, So Now Let’s Focus on Actually Improving Them,” which originally appeared in Broadband Communities in July 2019.

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