The FCC has released offers totaling $67 million in Universal Service Fund (USF) broadband support for 207 rural rate-of-return carriers. Carriers accepting the offer will be required to deploy broadband service at speeds of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream to specified locations in their local service territory.
The carriers have 30 days to decide whether to accept the offers, according to an FCC official. If all carriers were to accept the offers, the 25/3 Mbps broadband service would be made available to 110,000 additional locations that cannot get service at those speeds today, the FCC said in a press release.
New USF Broadband Funding Offer
The FCC voted in December to make $67 million available to carriers that previously accepted USF support based on the A-CAM cost model. The new offer raises the target speed on certain deployments from a previous level of 10/1 Mbps or less to the higher 25/3 Mbps level.
The move was part of a range of changes to the USF program adopted by the FCC in December. The commission also said it would make an additional offer of A-CAM model-based funding to rural ROR carriers that did not previously accept the model-based option but instead chose to remain on the traditional USF high-cost program that provides support based on embedded costs.
As the FCC notes in a public notice, the total number of offers made was 262, apparently because some carriers received more than one offer. A list of the carriers receiving offers, with details, can be found at this link.
The nation’s larger price cap carriers previously were offered model-based funding to bring broadband to locations within their local service territory that did not already have service. Unlike with ROR carriers, funding for most of the areas rejected by the price cap carriers was awarded to other carriers through an auction process – although where there was no winning bidder, the incumbent price cap carrier will continue to receive USF support through the traditional high-cost program until other arrangements can be made.