ACA Wants FCC to Clarify CAF Support Modeling

Finds White House, Capitol, in Census Blocks Eligible for Broadband Support

The American Cable Association has sent a letter to the FCC asking for clarification on why census blocks containing the White House, Capitol, and National Mall would show up under the FCC's Connect America Fund's (CAF) model as unserved areas eligible for government broadband subsidies.

ACA says that might be OK, but wants to make sure the FCC didn't mistakenly include those and other census blocks among the ranks of the subsidy-eligible.

"ACA would not have expected census blocks within this census block group to be eligible for funding under a CAF program dedicated to supporting broadband deployment in rural or high-cost areas," the group said. ACA represents small and midsized cable operators concerned about the government subsidizing competition to existing service.

ACA, which has been working with the FCC as it provides cost modeling for the Universal Service Fund subsidies it is migrating from phone to broadband support.

"ACA has been examining results produced by the current version of the CACM, including the model’s unexpected provision of support in certain areas within major urban markets," ACA said. "Because these results seem to run counter to the objectives of the CAF, ACA asks the [Wirelines Competition] Bureau to analyze them to determine whether support is warranted, and if it is not warranted, the Bureau should use its authority to address this issue."

ACA concedes there may be good reason why those and other urban census blocks qualify for support, but also says that some of the FCC's Connect America Cost Model data is not accessible, so that ACA could not determine that.

ACA says its analysis of the cost modeling data the FCC made public June 25, over $33 million in support is allocated to the 10 most populous census blocks. Those include blocks containing Logan National Airport in Boston, Golden Gate Park in San Francisco and Arlington Cemetery outside of Washington.

Again, it says that may be okay, since those blocks may include portions that "are not densely populated, currently served, or easily accessible." But ACA wants to make sure that is the case. "Because of these unexpected results, ACA asks that the Bureau determine whether the areas identified by ACA, as well as similarly situated areas, are receiving support in error," ACA said.

"FCC staff continues to work on the model, and nothing is final yet," said an FCC spokesman.