The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has published the Alternative Connect America Cost Model (A-CAM) Challenge Order. After several cost model revisions and data refinements, the Wireline Competition Bureau began the recent challenge process on April 17, 2016. In this proceeding, the Bureau received 146 comments with 273 requests to modify A-CAM coverage data. The Bureau granted 80 requests, denied 73 requests, and declined to act on 124 requests.
The Bureau used Form 477 data from June of 2015 to review challenges, and instructed challengers with changes to their December 2015 data submission to include that information in comments for the proceeding. One important clarification made in the A-CAM Challenge Order was the decision not to split census blocks between competitors. Comments received by the bureau fell into three general categories:
- Competitors correcting their data to increase or decrease coverage areas in challenged census blocks.
- Incumbent carriers correcting the data for their current service areas.
- Incumbent carriers challenging certified form 477 data filed by another provider.
This A-CAM order is just the first step in the FCC’s Rate-of-Return reform process. Now that challenges have been settled, providers will choose whether or not to select A-CAM or the new Rate-of-Return model. Each cost recovery model has build-out requirements at minimum speed designations. At an unknown date in the near future, the Bureau will release final calculations of the A-CAM model based support and providers will have 90 days to elect A-CAM. Providers who do not file will automatically elect the new Rate-of-Return model.
Experts anticipate the A-CAM offer will need to be adjusted based on the number of providers who choose the model. Offers will likely lower the support cap. When the new offer is released providers will have an additional 30 days to decide to switch to the Rate-of-Return model or stay with A-CAM.
To view the whole order including a summary of all challenges click here: