The Connect America Fund Accountability Act, introduced in the House of Representatives by Representative Doug Collins (R-Georgia), aims to ensure that network operators who deploy broadband using Connect America Fund dollars are delivering the required broadband speeds and meeting other performance requirements. Network operators would be required to include the method of performance testing that they use to report performance each quarter.
In addition, the act would direct the Universal Service Administrative Company to audit a network operator based, at least in part, on the number and frequency of broadband service complaints submitted about the operator to the FCC.
Connect America Fund Accountability Act
Examples of performance testing methods include the Measuring Broadband America technology, off-the-shelf ping testing and self-testing, a bill summary notes. Network operators that opt to use self-testing software would be required to report information on their self-testing algorithms or processes to the FCC every three years.
Operators also would be required to ensure that each test includes a representative number of residences and businesses in a CAF service area.
The introduction of the bill comes at a time when some stakeholders have expressed concerns about whether some network operators that received funding in the recent Connect America Fund auction will be able to meet minimum performance standards, which apply to broadband speeds and latency.
In a press release about the bill, Collins accused “some carriers – particularly in North Georgia” of failing to provide adequate broadband speeds. By requiring carriers to meet CAF performance requirements, the legislation is intended to help ensure that “households and businesses throughout our rural communities have access to the broadband services required to compete in the 21st-century economy,” Collins said.
Just this week, Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, expressed concern that some CAF auction winners planned to use emerging technology that lacks a proven track record. Bloomfield voiced her concerns at a tech policy event organized by Next Century Cities, the American Action Forum and Public Knowledge.
If the CAF Accountability Act happens to join the ranks of those rare pieces of legislation that ultimately passes, it could help determine whether or not concerns about the newer technologies are merited.