In the RHC Telecommunications (Telecom) Program, support for eligible telecommunications services is calculated based on the difference between the rates available for identical or similar services in rural and urban areas in a state. For more information on rural and urban rates, and the Telecom Program, please review the Telecom Program Page.
Beginning FY2021, the rural and urban rates used to calculate the amount of eligible support for a Health Care Provider (HCP) site location will be the median of available rates as identified in the Rates Database. A database search will also provide users with the underlying data used to calculate those median rates. Telecom Program applicants will use the median rural and urban rates from the Rates Database for the requested telecommunications services when submitting Telecom Funding Requests FCC Form(s) 466.
When submitting an FCC Form(s) 466, the rural rate for the requested service will be calculated based on the rural rate included in the agreement with the service provider or the median rural rate from the Rates Database, whichever is lower. The urban rate for the requested service will be the median urban rate from the Rates Database.
For applicants requesting funding in the State of Alaska:
On January 19, the FCC released DA 21-83, waiving the requirement to use the Telecom Program Rates Database for determining rural rates for health care providers in Alaska. This action will ensure that telecommunications service providers in Alaska will receive sufficient Telecom Program support for the next two funding years, thereby providing a reliable telecommunications marketplace for Alaskan health care providers, while the FCC further examines how to apply the Rates Database to Alaska in light of its unique and challenging geography. Please note that this waiver only applies to rural rates in Alaska, all applicants must still use the Rates Database to determine urban rates.
This waiver is in place for FY2021, for which competitive bidding has already begun, and for FY2022 unless the FCC has separately addressed pending petitions seeking reconsideration of the Rates Database requirements by January 19, 2022. We will alert you whether waiver of the Rates Database remains in effect for FY2022.
For more information about filing your FCC Form(s) 466 without using the rates database, please refer to the following webpage and tip sheet:
With the Rates Database You Can:
Determine the median rate calculated for the service(s) you are seeking, based on the following criteria:
- Location: The state where your facility or site is located.
- Rate Tier: The tier where your facility or site is located. The options are Frontier (only in Alaska), Extremely Rural, Rural, Less Rural, or Urban.
- Bandwidth (MB): The speed of the service you are purchasing. This should be a numeric value in megabytes (MB). For example, if you are purchasing 1 GB service, you should enter 1,000 in this field. If you are purchasing voice services, this field will not be factored into the calculation, so please enter 0.
- Best Efforts/Dedicated Service: Dedicated services contain service level guarantees (e.g., speed, reliability, traffic prioritization, latency, etc.) and are priced higher than mass marketed retail best-efforts service offerings that may come with service objectives but no contractual service level guarantees. Users must indicate the level of service they require as the Rates Database distinguishes between dedicated and best-efforts service offerings in providing median rates.
- Category of Service: This is the broad category of the service you are purchasing – either Voice or Data.
- Service Type (optional): This is the specific type of service you are purchasing, e.g., Ethernet, microwave, satellite, etc. This field is tied to the “Category of Service,” so if you select Data for “Category of Service,” only data services will be available for the “Service Type.”
Please note, bandwidth data used for median rate calculation will automatically include 30% +/- range requested bandwidth in accordance with the RHC Reform Order for identifying similar services for evaluating rates.
Once a median rate is identified you can view and download the data used for the median rate calculation. Note that the download file shows all available rates identified. Identical rates for the same service from the same service provider were treated as duplicates and counted as one distinct available service offering for purposes of calculating a median rate. The download file indicates rates identified as available but deemed a duplicate and excluded from the calculation of distinct rates. The download file will also include additional details on the source of the rate identified then displayed in the results summary on the Rates Database website.
Don’t know your rurality tier for conducting a rate search? Start with the Rurality Tier Search Tool.
Just interested in the raw data in the Rates Database? You can access that through our Open Data Platform.
The rural rate will be the median of all available rates identified for the same or functionally similar service offered within the rural tier applicable to the HCP’s location within the state.
The rural rate is determined using the following tiers in which an HCP is located:
- Extremely Rural: areas entirely outside of a Core Based Statistical Area;
- Rural: areas within a Core Based Statistical Area that do not have an Urban Area with a population of 25,000 or greater;
- Less Rural: areas in a Core Based Statistical Area that contains an Urban Area with a population of 25,000 or greater, but are within a specific census tract that itself does not contain any part of a Place or Urban Area with a population of greater than 25,000; and,
- Frontier (for HCPs located in Alaska only): areas outside of a Core Based Statistical Area that are inaccessible by road as determined by the Alaska Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development, Division of Community and Regional Affairs.
Read more about Core Based Statistical Areas
The urban rate is the median of all available rates identified by USAC for the same or functionally similar services in all urbanized areas in the state where the HCP is located to the extent that urbanized area falls within the state.
What rates will you use?
Rural rates: HCPs must use the lower of the rural rate available in the Rates Database or the rate included in the service agreement that the HCP enters into with the service provider when requesting funding for the requested service.
Urban rates: HCPs must use the urban rate for the requested service that is available in Rates Database.