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The FCC has received a strong response from small rural carriers on the Enhanced ACAM (E-ACAM) broadband funding program, judging by the list of carriers that have opted to accept individualized E-ACAM offers that were made to them several weeks ago.

The carriers have committed to deploying broadband at faster speeds than they were previously required to deploy in exchange for incrementally more funding and more time to make deployments.

The commission did not provide the amount of funding requested or the number of providers that accepted the offers, but the list is a lengthy one.

The E-ACAM program was established this summer in response to a request from providers who were on the previous ACAM (alternative Connect America cost model) program.

The providers asked that the deployment speed requirement be raised from 25/3 Mbps to 100/20 Mbps. The reason was that the upcoming BEAD rural broadband funding program defines an underserved location as one lacking 100/20 Mbps service, which would have meant that an ACAM provider might use funding to deploy 25/3 Mbps service in areas that would be eligible for a BEAD-funded overbuild not long after.

The E-ACAM offers are based on deploying 100/20 Mbps service and providers have more time to complete deployments.

In a public notice, the FCC cautioned that “Confirmation of receipt of a carrier’s election letter and inclusion on this list does not constitute authorization to receive Enhanced A-CAM support pursuant to the terms of the offer. Carriers electing Enhanced A-CAM support will not begin receiving such support until the Bureau issues a public notice authorizing the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) to disburse the appropriate amounts.”

The commission also noted that it published the list of companies choosing E-ACAM “to inform, among other processes, the BEAD Program challenges conducted by states or eligible entities and prevent any duplication of support to a location where it is determined that the Enhanced A-CAM service provider plans to deploy a technology that would satisfy the requirements for being deemed an enforceable commitment for the deployment of qualifying broadband to a location.”

Providers that accepted E-ACAM awards in time to meet the September 29 deadline that do not appear on the list are instructed to contact no later than October 10.

Eligible carriers accepted E-ACAM offers on a state-by-state basis. The list of carriers that accepted E-ACAM offers is available at this link.

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