CAF Broadband Loop Support

Established by the FCC in 2016, CAF BLS provides support for voice and broadband service, including stand-alone broadband. The fund, a reform of Interstate Common Line Support (ICLS), helps carriers recover the difference between loop costs associated with providing voice and/or broadband service and consumer loop revenues. In 2018, the FCC set a budget of $1.42 billion for CAF BLS, which will rise annually with inflation, and reduced the monthly per-line limit on support from $250 to $225 as of July 2019 and $200 as of July 2021. The 2018 order also establishes new deployment obligations for carriers remaining on CAF BLS support, requiring them to expand deployment of broadband at speeds of 25/3 Mbps before 2024.  Learn more.

Deployment Obligations

In the 2018 Rate-of-Return Reform Order, the FCC revised the minimum 10/1 Mbps speed requirement for CAF BLS broadband deployment established by the 2016 Rate-of-Return Reform Order. The 2018 order requires carriers receiving CAF BLS to comply with the following deployment obligations, calculated using the most recently available FCC Form 477 data:

  • Carriers that are less than 20 percent deployed at speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps must use 35 percent of their CAF BLS support to deploy 25/3 Mbps broadband service
  • Carriers that are greater than 20 percent but less than 40 percent deployed at speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps must use 25 percent of their CAF BLS support to deploy 25/3 Mbps broadband service
  • Carriers that are at least 40 percent deployed at speeds of at least 25/3 Mbps must use 20 percent of their CAF BLS support to deploy 25/3 Mbps broadband service

Carriers that receive CAF BLS support may elect one of two methods for determining their deployment obligations over the program’s five-year term. Deployment obligations would be calculated by dividing the applicable CAF BLS funding by:

  • the average cost of providing 25/3 Mbps service, based on the weighted average cost per loop of carriers that have deployed 25/3 Mbps service to 95 percent or more of the locations in their study area, or 150 percent of the weighted average cost per loop of companies with similar density and level of deployment, whichever is greater (Weighted Average Cost Method)
  • Or the ACAM calculation of the cost per location of providing 25/3 Mbps service in the unserved census blocks in the carrier’s study area (ACAM Method)

Please see this spreadsheet for carrier-specific deployment obligations.

Annual Filing Requirements

Carriers receiving CAF BLS support must also complete the following filing and certification requirements each year.

  • March 1: Submit geolocated broadband deployment data showing where the carrier built out broadband by latitude and longitude in the previous calendar year. Submit Locations in the HUBB. USAC will conduct verification reviews to confirm deployment to a random sample of locations reported in the HUBB. Carriers must notify the FCC and USAC, and relevant state, U.S. Territory or Tribal governments if applicable, within 10 business days after the applicable deadline if they have failed to meet a build-out milestone (see 47 CFR Section 54.320(d)).
  • March 31: Submit FCC Form 508 and FCC Form 507 (required).
  • Quarterly: Submit speed and latency pre-test or test data from performance measures testing conducted at a random sample of locations with active subscribers reported in the HUBB. Submit speed and latency test data in the Performance Measures Module
  • July 1: File and certify FCC Form 481 (Carrier Data Annual Collection Form). File Online
  • July 31: File FCC Form 507, if filing quarterly (optional).
  • September 1: Submit FCC Form 477 to the FCC.
  • September 30: File FCC Form 507, if filing quarterly (optional).
  • October 1: Certify that the carrier has used High Cost funding correctly per program rules. Most carriers are certified by their states. If not subject to state jurisdiction, the carrier must file directly with USAC and the FCC. Learn more.
  • December 31: Submit FCC Form 509 (actual cost and revenue data collection) and FCC Form 507, if filing quarterly line counts (FCC Form 507 is optional).

Related Orders

Rate-of-Return Reform Order (FCC 16-33) – Created CAF BLS via reform of ICLS to support broadband loop costs

Rate-of-Return Reform Order (DA 16-661) – Order addresses several matters arising from the implementation of the Rate-of-Return Reform order, including budget control, operation expense limitation, and capital investment allowance

Rate-of-Return Reform Order (FCC 18-29) – Order codifying rules about eligible expenses and offering additional ACAM support for expanded broadband deployment

Rate-of-Return Reform Order (FCC 18-176) – Order establishing ACAM I Revised and ACAM II and adopting new deployment obligations for rate-of-return carriers

Public Notice (DA 19-373) – Notice regarding revised deployment obligations for incumbent rate-of-return carriers