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                           Before the
                Federal Communications Commission
                     Washington, D.C. 20554

In the Matter of                )
                                )
South Dakota Network, LLC       )    File No. EB-02-TS-271
Santel Communications Corporation    )  
Sioux Valley Telephone, Inc.    )
Splitrock Telecom Cooperative, Inc.  )
Sully Buttes Telephone Cooperative, Inc.     )
Valley Telecommunications Cooperative)
Association d/b/a Valley Cable & Satellite   )
Communications                  )
                                )    
Operators of Cable Systems in the States of: )
                                )    
Iowa, Minnesota and South Dakota)
                                )
Request for Waiver of Section 11.11(a) of the     )    
Commission's Rules              )    
                                        
                              ORDER 

Adopted:  April 16, 2003                Released:  April 21, 2003

By the Chief, Technical  and Public Safety Division,  Enforcement 
Bureau:

1.        In this Order, we grant  South Dakota Network, LLC  and 
  five of  its owners, Santel  Communications Corporation,  Sioux 
  Valley Telephone,  Inc., Splitrock  Telecom Cooperative,  Inc., 
  Sully   Buttes   Telephone  Cooperative,   Inc.,   and   Valley 
  Telecommunications Cooperative  Association d/b/a Valley  Cable 
  & Satellite  Communications, (``Joint Petitioners'')  temporary 
  waivers  of   Section  11.11(a)  of   the  Commission's   Rules 
  (``Rules'') for 22 small cable television systems in the  three 
  above-captioned  states.   Specifically,  we  grant  the  Joint 
  Petitioners a  temporary, 12-month waiver  of Section  11.11(a) 
  of the Rules for  one cable television system and a  temporary, 
  26-month waivers of Section 11.11(a) of the Rules for 21  cable 
  television systems.   Section 11.11(a)  requires cable  systems 
  serving fewer than  5,000 subscribers from a headend to  either 
  provide  national   level  Emergency  Alert  System   (``EAS'') 
  messages on  all programmed channels  or install EAS  equipment 
  and  provide  a   video  interrupt  and  audio  alert  on   all 
  programmed  channels and  EAS audio  and video  messages on  at 
  least one programmed channel by October 1, 2002.1 

2.        The Cable Act of 1992  added new Section 624(g) to  the 
  Communications  Act  of 1934  (``Act''),  which  requires  that 
  cable  systems be  capable of  providing  EAS alerts  to  their 
  subscribers.2  In 1994, the Commission adopted rules  requiring 
  cable systems to participate in EAS.3  In 1997, the  Commission 
  amended the  EAS rules  to provide financial  relief for  small 
  cable systems.4  The Commission declined to exempt small  cable 
  systems  from the  EAS requirements,  concluding that  such  an 
  exemption would be  inconsistent with the statutory mandate  of 
  Section  624(g).5    However,  the   Commission  extended   the 
  deadline   for  cable   systems  serving   fewer  than   10,000 
  subscribers to  begin complying with the  EAS rules to  October 
  1, 2002,  and provided cable systems  serving fewer than  5,000 
  subscribers the option  of either providing national level  EAS 
  messages  on   all  programmed  channels   or  installing   EAS 
  equipment and  providing a video interrupt  and audio alert  on 
  all programmed channels and EAS audio and video messages on  at 
  least  one programmed  channel.6  In  addition, the  Commission 
  stated that  it would grant waivers of  the EAS rules to  small 
  cable  systems  on  a case-by-case  basis  upon  a  showing  of 
  financial  hardship.7   The Commission  indicated  that  waiver 
  requests must contain at least the following information:   (1) 
  justification for the waiver, with reference to the  particular 
  rule sections  for which  a waiver is  sought; (2)  information 
  about the financial status of the requesting entity, such as  a 
  balance sheet and  income statement for the two previous  years 
  (audited, if possible);  (3) the number of other entities  that 
  serve the  requesting entity's coverage area  and that have  or 
  are expected to  install EAS equipment; and (4) the  likelihood 
  (such  as proximity  or frequency)  of hazardous  risks to  the 
  requesting entity's audience.8

3.        On June 24, 2002, the Joint Petitioners filed a request 
  for temporary  waivers of Section  11.11(a) until December  31, 
  2004 for 22 small,  rural cable systems in the three  captioned 
  states.   In support  of this  request, the  Joint  Petitioners 
  state that  21 systems serve between  42 and 1,073  subscribers 
  with the  largest system serving  2,500 subscribers.  Based  on 
  price  quotes  provided by  EAS  equipment  manufacturers,  the 
  Joint Petitioners  estimate that it  would cost between  $8,000 
  and $10,000  to install EAS equipment at  each of the 22  cable 
  systems for a total cost of approximately $208,000.  The  Joint 
  Petitioners assert  that this cost  will impose an  unnecessary 
  financial  hardship  for  the  systems  and  provide  financial 
  statements for 2000 and 2001 in support of this assertion.   In 
  addition,  the Joint  Petitioners submit  that its  subscribers 
  will continue to have ready access to national EAS  information 
  from other  sources, including  its cable  systems.  The  Joint 
  Petitioners also submit  that its subscribers will have  access 
  to EAS information through over-the-air reception of  broadcast 
  television and radio  stations. Finally, the Joint  Petitioners 
  submit plans to  begin interconnecting the 22 cable systems  to 
  a  newly  constructed common  headend  in  Sioux  Falls,  South 
  Dakota.   The Joint  Petitioners believe  that  interconnection 
  can be completed by December 31, 2004.

4.        Based upon our review of  the financial data and  other 
  information  submitted by  the Joint  Petitioners, we  conclude 
  that  a  temporary, 12-month  waiver  of  Section  11.11(a)  is 
  warranted for the largest cable system and temporary,  36-month 
  waivers of  Section 11.11(a) are  warranted9 for the  remaining 
  21 cable  systems.  In particular, we  find that the  estimated 
  $208,000 cost to  install EAS equipment at these cable  systems 
  could impose  an unnecessary  financial hardship  on the  Joint 
  Petitioners. 

5.        We note that  the Commission recently  amended the  EAS 
  rules  to  permit  cable  systems  serving  fewer  than   5,000 
  subscribers  to   install  FCC-certified  decoder-only   units, 
  rather  than both  encoders  and  decoders, if  such  a  device 
  becomes  available.10    Based  on   comments  from   equipment 
  manufacturers, we  anticipate that such  a decoder-only  system 
  could  result  in  significant  cost  savings  to  small  cable 
  systems.11   On  July 23,  2002,  The  Commission  granted  and 
  equipment authorization for a decoder-only unit.12

6.        Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED  that, pursuant to  Sections 
  0.111,  0.204(b)   and  0.311   of  the   Rules,13  the   Joint 
  Petitioners ARE  GRANTED a  waiver of Section  11.11(a) of  the 
  Rules until October 1, 2003 for one cable television system  in 
  Brandon,  South Dakota  and ARE  GRANTED  a waiver  of  Section 
  11.11(a) of  the Rules  until December  31, 2004  for 21  cable 
  television systems in  the states of Iowa, Minnesota and  South 
  Dakota, as listed in Attachment A. 

7.        IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Joint Petitioners  place 
  a copy of this waiver in its systems files.

8.        IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that  a copy of this Order  shall 
  be sent by  Certified Mail Return Receipt Requested to  counsel 
  for the  Joint Petitioners,  Gerard J.  Duffy, Esq.,  Blooston, 
  Mordkofsky, Dickens, Duffy & Prendergast, 2120 L Street,  N.W., 
  Suite 300, Washington, D.C.  20037.

                         FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION
                         


                         Joseph P. Casey
                         Chief, Technical and Public Safety 
Division
                         Enforcement Bureau
                                             Attachment A

                         South Dakota Network, LLC

     Cable Systems:                     Waivers:
          
     Splitrock Telecom Cooperative, Inc.
     Brandon, South Dakota                   Granted Until 
October 1, 2003
     Howard, South Dakota                    Granted Until 
December 31, 2004

     Santel Communications Corporation
     Woonsocket, South Dakota           Granted Until December 
31, 2004
     Mt. Vernon, South Dakota           Granted Until December 
31, 2004
     Ethan, South Dakota                Granted Until December 
31, 2004

     Sioux Valley Telephone, Inc.
     Dell Rapids, South Dakota               Granted Until 
December 31, 2004
     Plankinton, South Dakota                Granted Until 
December 31, 2004
     Corsica, South Dakota                   Granted Until 
December 31, 2004
     Valley Springs, South Dakota            Granted Until 
December 31, 2004
     Montrose, South Dakota                  Granted Until 
     December 31, 2004
     Hills, Minnesota                   Granted Until December 
     31, 2004 
     Larchwood, Iowa                    Granted Until December 
     31, 2004
     Inwood, Iowa                       Granted Until December 
31, 2004
     
     Sully Buttes Telephone Cooperative, Inc.
     Highmore South Dakota              Granted Until December 
31, 2004
     Wessington Springs, South Dakota             Granted Until 
December 31, 2004
     Langford, South Dakota                  Granted Until 
December 31, 2004
     
     Valley Telecommunications Cooperative Association
     d/b/a Valley Cable & Satellite Communications
     Eureka, South Dakota                    Granted Until 
December 31, 2004
     Glenham, South Dakota                   Granted Until 
December 31, 2004
     Herried, South Dakota                   Granted Until 
December 31, 2004
     Hosmer, South Dakota                    Granted Until 
December 31, 2004
     Leola, South Dakota                Granted Until December 
31, 2003
     Pollock, South Dakota                   Granted Until 
December 31, 2004

     

_________________________

  1 47 C.F.R.  11.11(a).

  2 Cable Television  Consumer Protection and Competition Act  of 
1992, Pub. L. No. 102-385,  16(b), 106 Stat. 1460, 1490  (1992).  
Section 624(g) provides that  ``each cable operator shall  comply 
with such standards as the  Commission shall prescribe to  ensure 
that viewers of video programming  on cable systems are  afforded 
the same emergency  information as is  afforded by the  emergency 
broadcasting system pursuant to Commission regulations ....''  47 
U.S.C.  544(g).  

  3 Amendment  of Part 73, Subpart  G, of the Commission's  Rules 
Regarding the Emergency  Broadcast System, Report  and Order  and 
Further Notice of Proposed Rule Making, FO Docket Nos. 91-171/91-
301, 10  FCC  Rcd  1786  (1994)  (``First  Report  and  Order''), 
reconsideration granted in part, denied in part, 10 FCC Rcd 11494 
(1995).

  4 Amendment  of Part 73, Subpart  G, of the Commission's  Rules 
Regarding the  Emergency  Broadcast  System,  Second  Report  and 
Order, FO  Docket Nos.  91-171/91-301, 12  FCC Rcd  15503  (1997) 
(``Second Report and Order'').

  5 Id. at 15512-13.

  6 Id. at 15516-15518.

  7 Id. at 15513.

  8 Id. at 15513, n. 59.

  9 The 12-month waiver  will extend from October 1, 2002,  until 
October 1, 2003, and the 26-month waiver will extend from October 
1, 2002, until December 31, 2004.  We clarify that the waivers we 
are granting  also  encompass  the  EAS  testing  and  monitoring 
requirements.  

  10 Amendment  of Part  11 of the  Commission's Rules  Regarding 
the Emergency Alert System,  EB Docket 01-66, FCC  02-64 at   71 
(released February 26, 2002).

  11 One manufacturer  estimated that an EAS decoder-only  system 
can reduce the cost by 64% over what a cable operator would spend 
for an encoder/decoder unit.  Id. at  70.

  12 See  Public Notice,  Notice Regarding  FCC Certification  of 
EAS Decoder, DA 02-2312 (released      September 19, 2002).

  13 47 C.F.R.  0.111, 0.204(b) and 0.311.