Rural Broadband

Small rural carriers have a big decision to make by Sept. 29, now that the FCC has released new broadband funding offers. The new offers are based on a higher broadband speed, as mandated in the enhanced Alternative Connect America Model (E-ACAM) order adopted earlier this summer.

Carriers must advise the FCC by the September deadline, on a state-by-state basis, whether they want to participate in the E-ACAM program and accept the new offers.

The initial program, established several years ago, covers some of the costs of deploying broadband to unserved areas based on a cost model. Traditionally, providers were required to deploy speeds of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream, and deployment cost estimates were based on deploying that speed.

The FCC E-ACAM program, established earlier this summer, raises the deployment speed required to 100/20 Mbps and gives carriers additional time to deploy service. The offers made this week are based on a new cost model considering the higher deployment speed requirement.

The new offers were made to small rural carriers that serve high-cost areas and receive support through the Universal Service high-cost program. This group includes those carriers that participate in the existing ACAM program, as well as those that receive funding based on embedded costs.

Small rural carriers had the option several years ago to continue to receive funding based on embedded costs or move to the ACAM program, which has more aggressive deployment goals. The new offers once again give carriers the option to choose the program in which they want to participate.

This week’s order and public notice about the FCC E-ACAM program can be found here.

The list of offers made are on this FCC spreadsheet.

Details about how the numbers were calculated can be found here.

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