Broadband communication has become a necessity and funding for rural network enhancements remains challenging.  Unfortunately, nearly 20% of the housing units in areas served by rate-of-return carriers lack access to the minimum 10 Mbps downstream/1 Mbps upstream (10/1 Mbps) mandated by the FCC.  In 2012 the Connect America Fund (CAF) established standards for basic voice and broadband services in High-Cost Support areas previously under the Universal Service Fund (USF) and the Telecommunications Act of 1996. Beginning in 2015 CAF II was launched initially addressing Price Cap Carriers, with Rate-of-Return Carrier rules following in 2016-17.  However, these funds are only distributed to providers who can meet the standards that have been set by CAFII in terms of speed, latency, and usage capacity. Most important, the speed targets are time sensitive and the clock is ticking!

Below are the minimum network speeds required by CAF II from each high-cost carrier category:

  • Price Cap Carriers [AT&T, CenturyLink, Cincinnati Bell, Consolidated, Fairpoint, Frontier, Hawaiian Telcom, Verizon (for Frontier), Windstream]: In August 2015 Price Cap carriers accepted $1.5 Billion annually to achieve 10/1 Mbps speeds in selected state-wide offers and must complete 40% of their rural broadband buildouts by the end of 2017, 60% by the end of 2018, and 100% by the end of 2020.
    • Rate-of-Return Carriers:  The March 2016 FCC 16-33 order reduced the rate-of-return from 11.25% to 9.75% to be phased in over multiple years. Carriers less than 80% deployed with the 10/1 Mbps service are required to spend over a 5 year period a specified percentage of their forecasted CAF Broadband Loop Support toward achieving the 10/1 Mbps speed target [35% (<20% deployed), 25% (20%-40% deployed), 20% (40-80% deployed)].
    • Alternative Connect America Fund (A-CAM) Carriers:  In January 2017, 207 former Rate-of Return carriers accepted the A-CAM model authorizing support over a 10-year period of $5.3 billion.  Carriers must provide 10/1 Mbps of broadband service to at least 40% of the high cost locations in the state by the end of the fourth year in the 10 year term, with coverage up to 100% as the 10 year term closes.  Additionally, carriers must offer at least 25/3 Mbps broadband service to 25 percent, 50 percent or 75 percent of the requisite locations by the end of the 10-year term, depending upon the state-level home densities of <5, 5-10 and 10< units per square mile.  Some extremely high cost loop areas will need to meet 4/1 Mbps service.
    • CAFII Auction (903):  On July 24, 2018 the FCC will conduct a reverse auction with participating carriers vying for $2.15 billion over 10 years serving state-wide census blocks where CAFII funds were not accepted by Price Cap Carriers.  Bids will be accepted for four service tiers 10/1 Mbps “minimum”, 25/3 Mbps “baseline”, 100/20 Mbps “above baseline” and 1 Gbps/500 Mbps “Gigabit”, along with two latency tiers and usage allowances.

MEETING THE STANDARDS

Telecommunications service providers are searching for effective solutions that can help them comply with the standards set forth by CAF II in terms of speed.  xDSL extension solutions from Core Telecom solution partner Positron Access have been proven most effective increasing broadband speed and quality, while offering the fastest implementation timeline.

BRX-XLR (10/1 Mbps)

Positron’s Broadband Reach Extender does exactly as its name suggests allowing you to extend your broadband service reach and range approximately 2x without compromising on the quality of the service. Connected with already existing ADSL2+ DSLAMs (Calix, Adtran, Tellabs/AFC, others), the BRX-XLR allows you to deliver 10/1 Mbps per pair at 17000 feet.  This increased capacity without having to construct fiber facilities is extremely capex efficient with fast Return on Investment (ROI) while meeting the minimum speed standards set by the CAF II. 

BRX-VDSL2 (25/3 Mbps)

For VDSL2 technology, Positron’s BRX-VDSL2 delivers over 25/3 Mbps at 6500 feet with multi-pair deployments extended even further.  Implementing the BRX-VDSL2 saves on new cabinet deployments and all of the associated construction costs while improving utilization of any existing VDSL2 DSLAM.  The CAFII A-CAM model is based on FTTP architecture and the Positron BRX-VDSL2 allows you to defer construction of your fiber plant offering relief from the speed target dates.

Please contact Core Telecom ([email protected]) to learn more about these exciting xDSL extension solutions or to initiate a trial.  Your subscribers will beg you not to return these trial units.