The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) has recently proposed a guideline for State Map Challenges, providing State Broadband leaders the option to follow the proposed guidelines or develop their own challenge process. It is anticipated that several states will adopt these guidelines, with states such as Louisiana already announcing their decision to adopt the guidelines once officially released.
The purpose of the state challenge process is to allow for challenges from "a unit of local government, nonprofit organization, or broadband service provider" against the state's initial determination of eligibility for BEAD funding, including identifying unserved or underserved locations along with inaccurate Community Anchor Institution (CAI) data.
With the world adjusting back to normalcy post-pandemic, 2022 was another booming - and some would say a hectic year for telecom. The momentum from the increased dependency on broadband has continued to reflect on the growing telecom market. Broadband and Telecommunications are entering a new landscape of competition as the demand for faster speeds and higher data consumption continue to force telcos to adapt to new technologies. With that, both CAF and ACAM testing is in full swing now that pre-testing has finished for CAF recipients.
As of writing this, hundreds of broadband providers across the country are testing their high-cost networks as a requirement for Connect America Fund (CAF) Performance Testing.
Although CAF tests originate from the subscriber's home networks, these tests are assessing more than just the last-mile and individual homes since their internet relies on regional and backbone networks too.
Historically, broadband funding has been distributed and managed by federal entities such as the USAC, with programs such as the Connect America Fund, which dispersed funds directly to internet providers. This time, state governments are managing grants and making sure that their local communities have access to high speed and affordable broadband.
Earlier this month, the NTCA- otherwise known as the Rural Broadband Commission, filed a petition for waiver requesting the Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) to extend the aid provided by the previous December 2020 Waiver Order. The Rural Broadband Commission explained in the petition that broadband providers continue to face challenges such as supply chain issues as a direct result of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The main requests of the NCTA were as follows;
The Commission should continue to allow A-CAM/RBE/Alaska Plan carriers to only pre-test 70% of the USAC-selected sampled locations for the first two quarters of 2022
Extend the “simple” waiver request for A-CAM/RBE/Alaska Plan carriers
Extend the pre-testing period for A-CAM/RBE/Alaska Plan carriers
Complying with the USAC’s requirements can be stressful. However, being non-compliant during the pre-testing phase isn’t the end of the world. In fact - it’s part of the process in most providers' deployment journeys.
As we jump into the fourth quarter of ACAM-I pretesting and prepare for the upcoming 2022 official testing, it’s important that providers determine what tactics they used to be successful this past year.
With the first quarter of performance testing behind us, we’d like to reflect on how our stamper technology performed. As we rolled out hundreds of stamper box devices across the United States, our years of experience in telecom were put to the test to adapt to new challenges that performance measures testing created.
A few months ago the FCC released order DA 18-710 specifying the network performance testing and reporting required for ISPs who receive support from the Connect America Fund (CAF). The order is nearly 40 pages, but in this post we will summarize the requirements and provide some options for how ISPs can comply.
Who Must Comply?
Recipients of CAF high-cost universal service support, including: