Enhanced A-CAM

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On 1/25/24 the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) released a Public Notice providing guidance regarding the resolution of location and broadband coverage issues in the EA-CAM mechanism. By way of background, please note the following:

* The FCC adopted the EA-CAM mechanism on 7/24/23 which provided a voluntary path to then current ACAM Carriers and legacy rate of return Carriers for supporting deployment of 100/20 Mbps in rural areas served by these Carriers.

* On 8/30/23 the WCB released a public notice announcing EA-CAM offers to eligible Carriers. The offers included Carrier specific support amounts and detailed location information regarding each Carrier’s current broadband deployment characteristics and the number of locations that the Carrier would be required to provide service at 100/20 Mbps.

* Also, on 8/30/23, the EA-CAM Implementation Order was released by the WCB. In this Order, the WCB addresses potential future changes to the specific number of required locations and related support amounts for each Carrier. The 7/24/23 EA-CAM Order instructs the WCB to ensure that the EA-CAM support amounts and deployment obligations are reflective of the most accurate and timely location data from the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (Fabric) and Broadband Data Collection (BDC) process that specifically reflects locations and broadband deployment that existed at the time the EA-CAM offers were made but were not reflected in the Fabric or the National Broadband Map. Per the 7/24/23 Order adjustments must be made no later than the end of 2025. The implementation Order describes the process for adjustments to deployment obligations and support amounts that may occur as a result of changes to location data.

* On 9/21/23, the WCB released a Public Notice revising the EA-CAM offers for 82 companies and offered preliminary guidance regarding the assignment to Carriers in the EA-CAM offers of locations outside their study areas or in cases of overlapping study areas.

* On 10/30/23, the WCB authorized 368 Carriers to receive EA-CAM support beginning 1/1/24.

In the 1/25/24 Public Notice, the WCB clarifies that in order to identify broadband serviceable locations (BSL) to which deployment may be required, the WCB plans to use Version 4 (released 12/27/23) of the Fabric, as modified by any successful challenges to location data submitted by 3/8/24. Version 4 was generated between July and December 2023 and the WCB has determined that dataset best represents the locations that existed at the time the EA-CAM offers were made.

To identify broadband availability at the relevant locations, the WCB plans to use BDC availability data as of 12/31/23 which is due 3/1/2024 (the filing window associated with the release of Fabric Version 4), as well as any challenges to broadband availability that have been resolved by 5/15/25. Challenges must be filed by 8/1/24 in order to guarantee resolution by 5/15/25. WCB states that due to the potential time required to resolve a broadband availability challenge, it is not feasible to set a cutoff earlier than 5/15/25. Further, a cutoff later than 5/15/25 may prevent the WCB from finalizing EA-CAM offers by 12/31/25 as required by the EA-CAM Order. Challenges that would be incorporated, if resolved by 5/15/25, would include challenges to availability data as of 6/30/23 and 12/31/24, based on Version 3 and Version 4 of the Fabric respectively. While the WCB recommends filing any broadband availability challenges by 8/1/24, challenges filed after that date will be applied if resolved by 5/15/25.

The dates most relevant to this process are summarized below:

Action Date
Fabric Version 4 Available to Licensees December 27, 2023
Broadband Availability Data for Fabric Version 4 Due March 1, 2024
Last Day to File Challenges to Location Data for Application to
Enhanced A-CAM Obligations and Support
March 8, 2024
Last Day to File Challenges to Broadband Availability Data with
Guaranteed Resolution in Time for Application to Enhanced A
CAM Obligations and Support
August 1, 2024
All Broadband Availability Challenges Resolved by this Date will
be Applied to Enhanced A-CAM Obligations and Support
May 15, 2025

The recent Public Notice also addresses situations where some EA-CAM Carriers were assigned locations outside of their study areas. This occurs because the Connect America Cost Model assumes that a location is served from the nearest point along a road and if the road is in an adjacent study area, the location is assigned to the adjacent study area rather than based on the certified study area boundaries. This inaccurate location assignment creates situations where a Carrier’s EA-CAM offer requires it to serve a location outside of its study area or conversely its EA-CAM offer did not include all locations in its study area to which service is required. These issues will be resolved based on the location adjustments described above through the use of certified study area boundaries with location data from the Fabric.

Another anomaly addressed in the 1/25/24 Public Notice is cases where a single location is assigned to two EA-CAM Carriers. The assignment of a location to an EA-CAM Carrier is based on the Connect America Cost Model and the Broadband Funding Map. The Model assigns a location to a single Carrier based on information inherent in the Model. The Broadband Funding Map assigns a location based on certified study area boundaries and in cases where study areas overlap a single location is assigned to two Carriers. The WCB has determined that approximately 1,036 locations exist and have been assigned to two EA-CAM Carriers. The WCB has concluded that these locations should be assigned based on the Model-assigned Carrier in cases where the Model-assigned Carrier already provides some level of service or when neither Carrier provides any level of service. Only in cases where the Model-assigned Carrier does not provide any service, while the other Carrier does, will the location be assigned to the overlapping Carrier.

The WCB has posted two files documenting the guidance described in the Public Notice. The Interim Eligible Locations File and the Interim Carrier Locations Assignments File. The Interim Eligible Locations File provides a significant amount of location specific information relative to a Carrier’s EA-CAM offer and deployment obligations. This file will allow EA-CAM Carriers to see, based on currently available data, what locations are required to be served with 100/20 Mbps service or are currently served at 100/20 Mbps by the EA-CAM Carrier. This file will be updated in the future as broadband availability is updated as described above. The second file, Interim Locations Assignments, identifies whether BSLs have been added or removed from a particular study area and can be compared to the data that was provided at the time that the EA-CAM offers were extended.


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