High Cost

Rules & Orders

Rate-of-Return Reform Order

Goals

The FCC is working to increase the reach of broadband so that all Americans have access to high-speed internet connections no matter where they live. The Rate-of-Return Reform Order released by the FCC at the end of March 2016 aims to bring broadband to the parts of rural America that still lack access.

Carriers that receive funding must meet defined build-out obligations in the communities they serve that most need investment. The goal: to make broadband available to all.

Elect A-CAM by January 19 or Remain with Legacy Funding

The Rate-of-Return Order allows carriers to elect the new Alternative Connect America Model (A-CAM), which provides a set amount of monthly support over 10 years, or remain with a reformed version of legacy support mechanisms with Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF-BLS) and High Cost Loop Support (HCLS). After receiving initial carrier elections by November 1, the FCC took a number of steps to address high demand for A-CAM support.

Those steps include allocating an additional $50 million annually to the A-CAM budget, and making revised offers to 191 carriers that previously elected A-CAM. The methodology used to calculate the revised offers reduces support by varying percentages based on how many locations in a carrier's eligible service territory still lack access to broadband speeds of 10 megabits per second downstream and 1 megabit per second upstream. Carriers that accept the revised offer of support must agree to meet the terms of the original A-CAM offer if additional support becomes available in 2017 to fund the original offers.

Carriers have until 5:30 PM EST on January 19, 2017, to notify the FCC, on a state-by-state basis, whether they elect to receive the revised amount of model-based support. Carriers interested in receiving the revised offer of A-CAM support must file an election by emailing the FCC at ConnectAmerica@fcc.gov and indicate their A-CAM election in the email, along with specific state elections (if applicable). Pursuant to FCC rules, elections will be considered timely if the FCC receives them by 5:30 PM EST on January 19, 2017 (47 CFR §§ 0.403, 1.7.) Carriers should not mail a hard copy of their election letter to the FCC.

Carriers submitting election letter emails will receive an e-mail confirmation receipt from the FCC. Should carriers not receive this receipt, they should contact the FCC, via email or via phone at (202) 418-7400, no later than 4:00 PM EST on January 19, 2017. Confirmation of receipt does not constitute authorization to receive A-CAM support.

No action is required if you wish to continue to receive support from the reformed legacy mechanisms, including CAF-BLS and HCLS, if applicable.

Additional Resources
Overview of the FCC's Rate-of-Return Reforms Webinar

Update on Implementation of RoR Reform Order Webinar

Next Steps and Key Dates

November 1, 2016 (no later than): USAC to announce budget figures for first half of 2017

November 1, 2016: Deadline to elect A-CAM support

December 19, 2016: Carriers to file tariffs for broadband-only loop service (15 days' notice)

December 27, 2016: Carriers to file tariffs for broadband-only loop service (seven days' notice)

January 1, 2017: Opex limits, capital investment allowance, CAF-BLS support implemented

January 3, 2017: Broadband-only loop service tariffs effective

March 1, 2017 (no later than): Carriers submit broadband deployment information to USAC

May 1, 2017: USAC announces budget figures for upcoming tariff year

We will continue to update this page with the most current information on upcoming requirements so check back often.

Contact Us

If you have any questions or concerns in the meantime, we are here to help you navigate these changes successfully. Contact us at HCQuestions@usac.org.