Verizon says FCC should adopt speed measurement methodology before CAF auction begins

A sunset over a barn structure
Verizon says the FCC needs to provide clear guidance on speed profiles before it holds its CAF auction this summer. (Getty/ehrlif)

Verizon says that as it mulls its involvement in the FCC’s upcoming $2 billion Connect America Fund auction this July, the regulator needs to provide more guidance on how it will determine whether a CAF-supported service meets speed requirements.

In an FCC filing, Verizon said that potential bidders need to know two main elements:  how the FCC will measure speed and whether the tested service is compliant, i.e., the statistical standards that the speed measurements will be required to meet.

Additionally, Verizon said that the FCC “should adopt speed test standards that are consistent with the real-world performance of comparable services in urban areas.”

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RELATED: FCC to launch $2B CAF-II auction in July, focuses on wireline, wireless technologies

Specifically, Verizon told the FCC that “a CAF-supported service in the gigabit performance tier should be considered compliant if it offers comparable performance to a gigabit-class service in urban areas.”

Verizon has been mainly a lone holdout in the CAF program, turning down large amounts of funding from the program during the CAF-I and CAF-II process. However, in February the service provider announced that it would invest $106.6 million leveraging state and federal funds to bring broadband to unserved parts of rural New York.

A large part of the funding—$70.7 million—will come from the new NY Broadband Program, with an additional $36 million coming from a mix of its own investment and CAF-II funds toward the project. Through this investment Verizon will bring service to more than 15,500 rural locations. This certainly is a change of heart for Verizon, as the telco initially turned down $144 million total per year for six years in CAF-II funding to expand broadband in the rural areas it serves.

Details about Verizon’s specific plans are still in question, but it appears that Verizon signaled its CAF-II build could be based on a FTTH architecture. Upon announcing its rural New York plans, the telco said it would work with its main fiber supplier, Corning, and other vendors. In April, Verizon announced a three-year minimum purchase agreement with Corning in which Verizon will purchase up to 20 million kilometers (12.4 million miles) of optical fiber each year from 2018 through 2020, with a minimum purchase commitment of $1.05 billion.

The FCC set July as the date of the CAF-II auction with the aim of expanding wireline and wireless broadband in unserved rural areas of the country. Potential service provider participants have until March 30 to file an application to participate in the auction, which is set to begin on July 24.