FCC to Enforce Quality Standards for Rural Broadband Networks

  • Connect America Fund (CAF)
  • Federal Communications Commission (FCC)

WASHINGTON — The Federal Communications Commission approved performance testing procedures for carriers receiving Connect America Fund support to deploy fixed broadband networks to unserved Americans living in rural areas, helping to ensure that rural Americans have access to the same high-quality networks as Americans in urban areas.

The Commission’s actions today also ensure that carriers remain accountable to consumers, taxpayers, and the Commission, and are delivering the network performance they have committed to provide. At the same time, the Commission gave carriers additional flexibility to minimize the burden of testing on them and their customers. This flexibility will enable carriers of all sizes and technical capabilities to meet testing requirements without unnecessary costs, while maintaining accountability.

The Connect America Fund provides support for broadband and voice service in rural areas where service would not be available or affordable absent support. Most Connect America Fund programs have specific build-out requirements and standards for speed and latency, and the testing procedures affirmed today would apply to all that have such requirements.  Carriers that fail to meet performance standards and build-out requirements face a loss of support.

In response to Petitions for Reconsideration and Applications for Review of an earlier bureau-level Performance Measure Order, the FCC maintained the existing requirement that carriers conduct quarterly speed and latency tests between specified numbers of active subscribers’ homes and the Internet, and made targeted modifications to the testing procedures, including:

  • Modifying the schedule for commencing testing by basing it on the deployment obligations specific to each Connect America Fund support mechanism;
  • Implementing a new pre-testing period that will allow carriers to become familiar with testing procedures without facing a loss of support for failure to meet the requirements;
  • Allowing greater flexibility to carriers in identifying which customer locations should be tested and selecting the endpoints for testing broadband connections.

 

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