High Cost Support Trends

Our Work

Jul 28, 2017

Contributor: Mark Guttman

Several times a year, someone asks us a question about the High Cost portion of Universal Service Funding (USF).  USAC operates to distrubute Universal Service funding authorized by the FCC.  The funding is allocated across four mechanisms; Schools and Libraries, Rural Health Care and High Cost.  The High Cost mechanism is funding to companies supporting unserved and underserved areas.

To explore High Cost questions we prepare an overview of trends and funding amounts. The information below represents our starting point in the discussion.   This overview is based on USAC Third Quarter FCC filings as well as the the 2016 USF Monitoring Report.

High Cost Support Trends

To put historical context around High Cost funding, the FCC produces a yearly  monitoring report.  Based upon the most recent report we can pull together a trend analysis.  This report is live; you can use the state pulldown in the bottom left of the figure to filter the report by state.

This second image allows you to see the yearly distribution as well as the distribution across funding mechinsms.  Over time, you'll see new mechanisms coming in to use-like CAF-while other mechanisms close down like local switching support (LSS). The mechanisms are abbreviated in this image.

  • High-Cost Loop Support (HCLS)
  • Safety Net Additive Support (SNAS)
  • Safety Valve Support (SVS)
  • High-Cost Model Support (HCMS)
  • Interstate Common Line Support (ICLS)
  • Interstate Access Support (IAS)
  • Local Switching Support LSS
  • Remote Alaska Support 1 (Remote Alaska)
  • Mobility Fund Phase I Support (Mobility1)
  • Connect America Cost Model (CACM)
  • Remote Broadband Experiments (RBE)

This graph is also live.  The State filter in the bottom left is active.

If we want to dive into the disbursements for the current quarter we can analyze distribution patterns by company or type of company. 

Current Disbursements

In the image below, the horizontal graph on the left shows the amount of funding by holding company.  You can click on each of the bars on this graph to manipulate the map.  As an example, clicking on the AT&T, Inc 'bar' shows the amount of USF wireline funds project for AT&T. You'll also notice that the map updates to highlight just those areas in which AT&T wireline operates in.  At this level the distributions are a bit cleaner for the local exchange carriers; we have not brought in the affiliate relationships--that is AT&T also receives USF funding from its wireless operations like 'New Cingular Wireless'.

You can also drill into the disbursements on a company level. In the next image the treemap provides a visual sense of the disbursement by company. A key aspect to this graph is that you can examine the difference in disbursements between Rate or Return, Competitive and Price Cap providers. This relationship can be explored by clicking on a slice of the pie chart.

You can  drill into individual states.  The image below provides a sense of all High Cost funding in Nebraska.  The size of the bubble indicates the amount of funding.

Unfortunately, this map is not yet web enabled.  The static image below gives a sense of the pattern of distribution in Nebraska as well as an approximate location of support.State High Cost Distribution

If you have any questions, please let us know.  We'd be happy to talk you through the live workspace.

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