FCC to Revise Rural Connectivity Standards


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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai circulated an item to his colleagues requesting a vote that would revise the Commission’s testing and performance standards for carriers that receive Universal Service support.

“Deploying broadband is more than just the physical connections between customers and service providers; it is also making sure that those networks are delivering the performance customers expect,” says Pai in a new blog post.

“Rural Americans shouldn’t have to settle for second-rate service, and taxpayer support shouldn’t go toward shoddy service. Carriers that are recipients of the Connect America Fund high cost program must prove they’re using that money to deliver the promised broadband speeds,” according to the Chairman. 

But the agency wants to ensure its testing procedures don’t impose unnecessary burdens on small carriers located in hard-to-serve areas. Pai believes the proposed item strikes the right balance. The item to be voted on at the October 25 meeting would maintain requirements to ensure that carriers receiving USF support are meeting the agency’s performance standards. 

“But it would also give providers greater flexibility,” says the Chairman. “For example, it would change testing implementation dates so that they are now more closely aligned with when a carrier has its first mandatory build-out obligations. It would also create a pre-testing period that would allow carriers to ensure that their testing systems are performing correctly before testing begins.”  

October 4, 2019                  

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