Significant Broadband Testing Ordered to Start in Less than One Year

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The FCC, in an order adopted and released July 6, 2018 (by the Wireline Competition Bureau, the Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of Engineering and Technology), prescribed broadband testing requirements for CAF high cost support recipients with build-out requirements. Included are:
-Price cap carriers receiving model-based CAF Phase II support,
-Certain RoR ACAM recipients and legacy carriers with build-out requirements,
-Rural broadband experiment support recipients,
-Alaska Plan carriers,
-CAF Phase II auction winners.
The order provides a framework for the measurement of the speed and latency of fixed voice and broadband services. The required testing, with a start date of July I, 2019, is designed to ensure that these carriers are meeting their service obligations. Penalties in the form of reduced high cost support will be assessed for non-compliance, with test results subject to audit by USAC.
Requirements include:
-Testing of up to 50 locations per CAF-required service tier offering per state,
-Testing of speed and latency from customer premises to a test server located at, or reached through, an FCC-designated internet exchange point,
-Downloads and uploads must be at or above 80% of the CAF-required speed tier,
– 95% of round trip latency as measured above must be at or below 100 m.
The order provides carriers with the options of using the existing Measuring Broadband America testing platform, specific carrier-developed programs, or off-the-shelf systems.
With the prospect of reduced support levels for non-compliance, plus the relatively short timeline to implement the new testing requirements, we urge carriers to begin the process of identifying test locations, reviewing various testing systems, and developing plans to meet the order’s provisions.