August 10, 2022 by Tom Schroer

3 Steps That Will Make It Easy to Meet Your FCC Funding Requirements

Tom Schroer

Senior Director Services Marketing, Calix

 
 

Broadband funding opportunities abound. The CAF Fund wave has grown over the years from $4.5 billion to the tsunami of the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, with $42.45 billion earmarked to expand high-speed internet access in unserved and underserved communities across the U.S. Add in state and local funding opportunities and the pool for infrastructure investment tops $100 billion. This presents an enormous opportunity over a few short years for broadband service providers (BSPs)—new and existing—to build new networks or expand their existing footprints.

Get Ahead on Critical FCC Performance Testing Requirements

It should come as no surprise that this funding comes with strings attached. Many programs require you to demonstrate that you’re delivering the broadband experience you’ve promised to subscribers. Certain plans have mandated performance testing requirements, such as CAF Phase 1 and 2, RDOF, and now the BEAD Program.

You’ve spent considerable time planning, securing funding for, and designing your broadband network. As part of this, you’ll need to establish a scalable broadband performance testing framework to ensure you’re compliant with funding requirements. The stakes are high—BSPs that do not successfully complete the rigorous quarterly testing process risk losing up to 25 percent of their monthly funding.

Here are three steps that will help you get ahead in FCC broadband performance testing.

  1. Get familiar with the testing requirements. Make sure you fully understand all the testing requirements for the specific funding program you’re participating in. These include how many and which subscribers you need to test; timelines for pre-testing and official testing; the performance levels you need to meet for speed and latency; and how to submit your reports to the Universal Services Administrative Company (USAC).
  2. Understand the deadlines for your funding program. Knowing when you need to conduct your testing is critical, particularly if you’re participating in multiple funds. Make sure you’re on top of the deadlines for completing your quarterly speed and latency tests and uploading the results to USAC.
  3. Be aware of the penalties so you can avoid them. Non-compliance with FCC testing requirements can have significant ramifications. In the worst-case scenario, when you’re less than 55 percent compliant, as much as 25 percent of your monthly support will be withheld. Even during pre-testing, failure to submit your results will result in five percent of your funding being withheld. The good news is that any time USAC finds an issue, you have a year to correct it—and when you do, USAC will refund any funds that were withheld.

Extremely complex and time-consuming, FCC broadband performance testing presents challenges for BSPs, regardless of their size. Calix can help you navigate this journey. With the Broadband Performance Testing Solution (comprised of award-winning Calix Support Cloud, GigaSpire® BLAST systems, and the Broadband Performance Testing Service), we alleviate the FCC testing burden. You’re then able to focus on what matters most—delivering an exceptional experience to your subscribers and building value for your communities.

Download our eBook “FCC Performance Testing: Your Playbook for Success” to learn more about how you can prepare for FCC broadband performance testing.