Rural Broadband

The FCC has authorized nearly $18.3 billion in enhanced A-CAM, also known as E-ACAM, rural broadband funding for 388 companies for a 15-year period.

Th enhanced A-CAM program is part of the FCC Universal Service Fund (USF) program. Enhanced ACAM, also known as E-ACAM, was established in July and builds on the previous A-CAM (alternative Connect America cost model) program.

The original A-CAM program provided funding for small incumbent rural broadband providers to upgrade lines in their serving areas to speeds of at least 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream based on a cost model. The E-ACAM program raises the target speed to 100/20 Mbps and provides additional funding to reflect the higher minimum deployment speed. It also pushes out the deadline for providers to complete deployments.

The decision to set a higher speed target for E-ACAM was a logical one, considering that the speed target for the $42.5 billion BEAD rural broadband funding program is 100 Mbps, and considering that locations lacking service at 100/20 Mbps are considered underserved and potentially eligible for BEAD funding.

The upshot is that under the original A-CAM program, a provider that deployed 25/3 Mbps service in conformance with program rules, would potentially have been eligible for BEAD funding not long after the 25/3 Mbps deployment was completed.

All rural rate-of-return providers were offered E-ACAM, including those who participated in the A-CAM program and those who opted in the past to remain on the traditional USF high-cost program, which covered some of a provider’s costs of providing service in high-cost areas based on embedded costs. Providers had to accept or decline the offers on a state-by-state basis.

As the FCC noted in a press release about the E-ACAM authorizations, the $18.3 billion in funding will go toward deploying 100/20 Mbps service to over 700,000 locations and toward maintaining or improving existing 100/20 Mbps service to approximately two million locations in 44 states.

Providers accepting E-ACAM have four years to complete deployments.

An initial list of required locations to which deployment is required is included in the FCC authorization report released today.

A complete list of providers that accepted E-ACAM offers and the amount of each provider’s offer is available in this report.

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