The Connect America Fund (CAF) is an FCC program aimed at expanding access to voice and broadband services in underserved areas. Through CAF Phase II, funding is provided to service providers to build new network infrastructure or upgrade existing networks to provide voice and broadband services in areas where they are lacking.
What is CAF Phase II?
CAF Phase II is a multi-year program designed to extend voice and broadband services to areas that are unserved or underserved by unsubsidized service providers. The program aims to ensure efficient use of CAF support by focusing on geographic areas in need.
Will broadband be offered in my area through CAF Phase II?
To find out if broadband will be offered in your area through CAF Phase II, visit this map which shows the areas where service providers have accepted and will receive CAF Phase II support.
What is the timetable for broadband access through CAF Phase II?
Companies that have accepted CAF Phase II support have six years to plan and offer broadband to consumers. Price cap carriers, who accepted CAF Phase II support, must complete their deployment by the end of 2020. The timing for when voice and broadband services will be offered in areas where service providers won support through the CAF Phase II auction varies based on the authorization date of each service provider.
What are the minimum requirements for broadband services under CAF Phase II?
The price cap carriers that accepted CAF Phase II support must meet the following requirements for voice and broadband services:
- Speed: Service providers must offer broadband at speeds of at least 10 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream.
- Latency: Service providers’ network latency cannot be higher than 100 milliseconds round trip.
- Usage Allowance: Service providers must offer at least one plan with a minimum usage allowance of at least 150 gigabytes (GB) per month or a monthly usage allowance that reflects the average usage of a majority of fixed broadband customers.
- Pricing: Service providers must offer service at rates reasonably comparable to rates in urban areas.
The requirements for voice and broadband services vary for areas where support was won through the CAF Phase II auction. The performance tiers and latency applicable to each area can be found on this map.
What are the plans for broadband deployment beyond CAF Phase II?
The FCC has proposed the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which aims to allocate up to $20.4 billion to expand broadband in unserved rural areas. This program would include areas in price cap carrier service territories that remain unserved with broadband at speeds of 25 Mbps downstream and 3 Mbps upstream.
Other service providers, known as rate-of-return carriers, who were not eligible for CAF Phase II support, receive support through different mechanisms and are also subject to broadband obligations.
The FCC will continue to monitor progress and explore additional ways to ensure access to broadband service for unserved and underserved consumers.
For more details about CAF, please visit this link.
For a printable version of the Connect America Fund Phase II FAQs, please download this pdf.