Enhanced ACAM

The Enhanced Alternative Connect America Cost Model (Enhanced ACAM) program will distribute roughly $18.28 billion over 15 years to carriers to deploy broadband service with speeds of at least 100 megabits per second downstream and 20 megabits per second upstream (100/20 Mbps) to more than 700,000 locations, and to improve or maintain 100/20 Mbps broadband service at approximately 2 million locations, in 44 states.

Established by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2023, Enhanced ACAM provides additional support to carriers that were participating in other Connect America Fund (CAF) programs to bring faster broadband to more locations, including locations in some of the most difficult-to-reach areas of the country.

In total, 368 carriers accepted FCC offers to transition to Enhanced ACAM from the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (ACAM), Revised Alternative Connect America Cost Model (Revised ACAM), Alternative Connect America Cost Model II (ACAM II) and Connect America Fund Broadband Loop Support (CAF BLS) programs.

Monthly Enhanced ACAM payments, which begin in 2024 and include transitional support for CAF BLS carriers, will total between $1.27 billion and $1.33 billion annually. Enhanced ACAM carriers have until Dec. 31, 2028, to complete deployment.

Please see the Rate-of-Return Reform webpage for more information about FCC orders targeting rate of return carriers.

Enhanced ACAM Program Requirements

Cybersecurity and Supply Chain Risk Management Plans

Enhanced ACAM carriers must implement operational cybersecurity and supply chain risk management plans by the start of the Enhanced ACAM support term on Jan. 1, 2024, and must file and certify those plans with USAC no later than Feb. 12, 2024. (See FCC DA 24-29). USAC will withhold 25 percent of monthly support from any carrier that fails to submit and certify its plans by the Feb. 12, 2024, deadline until the carrier comes into compliance with the rule.

This mandate requires Enhanced ACAM carriers to implement and submit to USAC:

Enhanced ACAM carriers must submit updated operational cybersecurity and supply chain risk management plans to USAC within 30 days if they make substantive modifications to their plans, such as a change in scope, risk mitigation strategies or organizational structure, and must certify in their annual Form 481 filings that they have maintained their plans and submitted any modifications.

USAC will withhold 25 percent of monthly support from any carrier that does not have plans that meet the FCC requirements in place at any point during the Enhanced ACAM support term until the carrier comes into compliance.

Participation in the Affordable Connectivity Program

Enhanced ACAM carriers must participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), a federal benefit program that provides a monthly discount on Internet service for qualifying households, as a condition of receiving support and must certify annual compliance with this mandate through the FCC Form 481 filing. ACP, which is administered by USAC, provides a discount of up to $30 a month on Internet service for eligible households (and up to $75 a month for households on qualifying Tribal lands), as well as a one-time discount of up to $100 to purchase a laptop, desktop computer or tablet from participating providers. Enhanced ACAM carriers that elect not to participate in ACP, or that cease to participate, will be in default of their Enhanced ACAM program obligations. (See paragraphs 55-58 in FCC 23-60)

Tribal Government Engagement

Enhanced ACAM carriers must be prepared to serve all locations in their study areas, including locations on Tribal lands, and must act in good faith to provide Tribal governments that have jurisdiction over those lands with the opportunity to consent to network deployment. Enhanced ACAM carriers must also engage with Tribal governments annually on issues including compliance with local rights of way, land use permitting facilities siting, environmental and cultural preservation review processes and Tribal business and licensing requirements that must be met to deploy broadband.

Federal Funding Coordination Requirements

In order to avoid duplicative federal subsidies for the same networks, Enhanced ACAM carriers must coordinate with state broadband offices, Tribal governments and any other relevant entities to determine the eligibility of locations for support under other federal broadband funding programs (and related processes). This includes the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program, a Commerce Department program that will invest $42.45 billion in network infrastructure and broadband deployment across the U.S. (See DA 23-1115).

Specifically, Enhanced ACAM carriers must:

  • Participate in the BEAD challenge process, which will determine locations that are ineligible for BEAD funding because they are already served by “reliable broadband service” at required speeds or subject to an enforceable commitment for the deployment of qualifying broadband.
  • Provide requested information to state broadband offices, which allocate BEAD funding to carriers in their states. This includes information about the service areas of Enhanced ACAM carriers and the specific locations that they serve (or plan to serve) using High Cost support, details about the technologies used to provide service at those locations and available speeds.
  • Take reasonable steps to obtain Tribal government consent that meets BEAD program requirements to serve locations on Tribal lands and provide supporting documentation to state broadband offices. (Enhanced ACAM carriers and Tribal governments can notify the FCC before July 1, 2025, if a carrier and a Tribal government mutually agree to forego Enhanced ACAM deployment obligations for locations where a state awards BEAD funding to another provider to deliver service. The FCC will adjust support and deployment obligations accordingly. (See DA 23-779)

Deployment Requirements

Enhanced ACAM carriers must offer at least one commercial voice service and one commercial broadband service with speeds of at least 100/20 Mbps and latency of 100 milliseconds or less, and must meet the following broadband deployment milestones:

  • 50 percent of 100/20 Mbps deployments by December 31, 2026
  • 75 percent of 100/20 Mbps deployments by December 31, 2027
  • 100 percent of 100/20 Mbps deployments by December 31, 2028

With the start of the Enhanced ACAM support term in 2024, Enhanced ACAM interim and final deployment milestones replace existing ACAM, Revised ACAM and ACAM II deployment milestones for carriers transitioning to the new fund. Carriers must meet the 2023 deployment milestones of their previous funds.

Annual Filing Requirements

Carriers receiving Enhanced ACAM support must comply with the following filing and certification requirements annually:

  • March 1: Submit and certify deployment data in the HUBB showing where the carrier built out broadband using CAF support in the previous calendar year (and complete separate deployment milestone certifications) or certify that the carrier has “no locations to upload.” Carriers must report latitude and longitude coordinates, minimum speeds offered and date of deployment, among other information, for every location where mass-market, high-speed Internet service is available. Submit Locations in the HUBB. The first mandatory HUBB filing deadline for Enhanced ACAM carriers is March 1, 2025. USAC will conduct verification reviews to confirm deployment to a random sample of locations reported in the HUBB following each deployment milestone. 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)).
  • July 1: Certify financial and operational data collected by FCC Form 481. The first mandatory Form 481 filing deadline for Enhanced ACAM carriers is July 1, 2025. Form 481 also requires Enhanced ACAM carriers to certify that (among other things): 1) they have maintained their operational cybersecurity and supply chain risk management plans and submitted any modifications; 2) they participate in the Affordable Connectivity Program; 3) they are participating in the BEAD challenge process and coordinating with state and Tribal governments to avoid duplicative federal broadband funding for the same locations; and 4) they are not using BEAD or other federal grant funding to support Enhanced ACAM deployment.
  • October 1: Certify that the carrier is eligible to receive High Cost support and used all support received in the proceeding calendar year only to provide, maintain and upgrade the facilities for which the support was intended and will do the same in the coming calendar year. State utility commissions certify carriers under their jurisdiction as eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs). Carriers not subject to state jurisdiction self-certify. Learn more about the annual ETC certification.
  • Quarterly: Submit and certify speed and latency test data from performance measures testing conducted for one week of each quarter of the calendar year at a USAC-selected random sample of locations reported in the HUBB that have active subscribers. During pre-testing, carriers must submit and certify test results within one week of the end of the quarter. During official testing, carriers have until July 1 to submit and certify results from testing conducted in the previous calendar year. Submit speed and latency test data in the Performance Measures Module. Enhanced ACAM carriers begin quarterly pre-testing in January of 2026 and quarterly official testing in January of 2027. USAC and the FCC encourage ACAM and CAF BLS carriers transitioning to Enhanced ACAM to continue quarterly testing with their previous funds in 2024 if they are at risk of being out of compliance for 2023 testing since passing quarterly results for 2024 can bring them back into compliance. (See DA 23-1131)

Related Orders

  • FCC Proposes Higher Speed Goals for Small Rural Broadband Providers (FCC 22-35)
  • Enhanced ACAM to Bring 100/20 Mbps Speeds to All Eligible Locations (FCC 23-60)
  • Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) Releases Illustrative Results for Enhanced A-CAM (DA 23-658)
  • WCB Releases Enhanced ACAM Illustrative Results Additional Information (DA 23-696)
  • Enhanced Alternative Connect America Cost Model Compliance Guide (DA 23-758)
  • Established specific parameters for determining Enhanced ACAM support offers, a methodology for adjusting support when updated deployment obligations increase or reduce the number of locations a carrier is obligated to deploy to, and further details regarding Enhanced ACAM carriers’ performance measures testing requirements. (FCC 23-778)
  • FCC Announces E-ACAM Support to Expand Broadband to Rural Communities (DA 23-779)
  • Enhanced ACAM Support Calculations Methodology and Data Sources (DOC-396476)
  • Enhanced ACAM Offers Report (DOC-396477)
  • Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) Announces Corrected Enhanced ACAM Support Offers (DA 23-835)
  • Enhanced ACAM Offers Report (DOC-397100)
  • WCB announces carriers that accepted Enhanced ACAM support to expand rural broadband (DA 23-920)
  • WCB Authorizes 368 Companies in 44 States to Receive Enhanced Alternative Connect America Cost Model Support to Expand Rural Broadband (DA 23-1025)
  • WCB Provides Guidance to High-Cost Support Recipients Regarding Engagement with States and Tribal Governments (DA 23-1115)
  • WCB provides guidance on performance measures requirements for carriers transitioning to Enhanced A-CAM and the sunsetting of the Hargray condition applicable to “mixed support” carriers that elected Enhanced A-CAM. (DA 23-1131)
  • WCB Denies NTCA Enhanced A-CAM cybersecurity and supply chain risk management (CSCRM) Plans Deadline Waiver Request (DA 23-1194)
  • WCB announces that Enhanced A-CAM carriers must certify and submit their cybersecurity and supply chain risk management plans by February 12, 2024 (DA 24-29)
  • WCB provides guidance regarding the resolution of outstanding location and broadband coverage issues for Enhanced A-CAM and provides an Interim Eligible Locations list (DA 24-78)