Bureau Adopts Methodology to Calculate Reasonable Comparability Benchmarks

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The FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau (Bureau) has adopted a specific methodology for calculating reasonable comparability benchmarks for fixed broadband services.  On an annual basis, it will allow the Bureau to determine whether recipients of high-cost support are offering broadband services in their supported areas at rates that are reasonably comparable to rates for similar services in urban areas, as required by the FCC’s rules.  Generally speaking, the Bureau will collect data from its annual survey on voice and broadband rates offered by providers of fixed services in urban areas, and then plug that data into its methodology, which will apply a weighted linear regression to the data to produce an estimated mean rate for a specific set of service characteristics.  The methodology then adds two standard deviations to the mean to determine the benchmark for a specific broadband service offering.  The Bureau’s methodology produces benchmarks that will vary depending on the supported service’s download and upload speeds and the service’s monthly data usage allowance.  According to the Bureau, it also is flexible, meaning it can account for any changes that may be adopted regarding the required minimum performance characteristics, such as raising the minimum broadband download speed to 10 Mbps.

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