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Rurality Tier Search Tool

This tool helps users search, by site location, the applicable rural tier for a site. The rural tier is used to calculate the “rural rate” for determining the amount of support for eligible telecommunications services to the site location for the RHC Telecom Program. The rural rate tier information from this tool can also be used to identify rural rates through the Rates Database tool.

In addition to helping to determine the rural rate, the rural tier is a factor in the prioritization of funding in the event eligible funding requests exceed the amount of available funding for a particular funding year.  Accordingly, in addition to the rural tier, this tool will also display whether or not the site is located in a Medically Underserved Area/Population (MUA/P), which is another factor related to funding prioritization, and the funding priority level for the HCP site location.

Rurality Tier

The rural tiers are based on the RHC Program definition of “rural area” under the Commission’s rules.*  Each eligible health care provider (HCP) site or location is considered an individual HCP for purposes of calculating support under the RHC Program. Under the RHC Telecom Program, each HCP site must fall within a rural tier to be eligible for support.

USAC will assign each HCP with a rurality tier based on the following criteria:

  • 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 contain 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 an urban cluster or urban area with a population of 25,000 or greater.
  • Non-Rural: all other non-rural areas.

In Alaska only, the Commission has, for purposes of determining the rural rate, subdivided the Extremely Rural tier into a Frontier tier that includes 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, and the Extremely Rural tier, which for Alaska includes areas outside of Core Based Statistical Area that are accessible by road. This Frontier/Extremely Rural distinction in Alaska is only applicable for determining rural rates in Alaska and has no relevance in funding prioritization.

Funding Prioritization

In the event eligible funding requests exceed the amount of available support for a particular funding year, the FCC’s rules provide for the prioritization of support based on the rurality tier of the HCP site and whether the site is located in a Medically Underserved Area/Population (MUA/P) area as designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Health Resources and Services Administration. Sites located in more rural areas that are designated MUA/P are given a higher priority than sites in less rural and non-MUA/P areas.

The following table shows the different prioritization tiers and can be found in 47 C.F.R. § 54.621(b):

Health Care Provider (HCP) Site is Located in: MUA/P Not in MUA/P
Extremely Rural Tier Priority 1 Priority 4
Rural Tier Priority 2 Priority 5
Less Rural Tier Priority 3 Priority 6
Non-Rural Area Priority 7 Priority 8

More information on the methods and procedures used to identify geographic areas for the rurality tiers and MUA/Ps.

With the Rurality Tier Search Tool You Can:

Determine the rurality tier of your HCP site location using the site address.

Get Started

Resources: How to Use the Rurality Tier Search Tool

You must use Google Chrome or Firefox to access this tool.

* 47 C.F.R. § 54.605(a).