October 16, 2019 by Gregory Bathrick

FCC to Vote on its Performance Test Order: What Does it Mean to You?


After months of reviewing several industry proposals, the FCC will vote on its performance test order for recipients of Universal Service Fund support later this month.

The commission feels they have struck the correct balance between the rights of the consumer to receive a quality Internet service against unnecessary burdens put on smaller service providers obligated to deliver specific broadband speeds while operating in hard-to-serve rural areas.

The FCC is committed to giving service providers greater flexibility where it makes sense to do so. First, it proposes later testing implementation dates that are more closely aligned with the service provider’s build-out obligations. Some companies will not need to begin testing until January 2022. With this schedule change, there will be a pre-testing period, allowing service providers to ensure that their testing systems are performing correctly before testing begins. 

Second, the FCC promises to host a subscriber-facing website to explain the important nature of the required testing, urging the public’s participation while emphasizing that no customer proprietary information is involved. Moreover, they clarify that many vendors provide software test solutions that do not require additional hardware at the customer premises. These activities are to help minimize the subscriber’s objection to accept this type of testing - a headache which service providers are trying to avoid.

Finally, the FCC designates 44 major North American Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs), representing a broad set of middle-mile carriers to be used. This change will provide a safe harbor for service providers that do not operate near one of the 16 FCC-designated IXP cities. In the end, the FCC hopes to provide the necessary flexibility to reduce burdens on service providers without compromising the effectiveness of the test order.

Since the order was first published in July 2018, Calix has remained vigilant to help educate the industry through online educational webinars and speaker engagements at regional and industry events. In that same vein, on the week immediately following the October 25 FCC vote, you are invited to join the regulatory breakout as part of Calix ConneXions to hear from industry experts on how the final order will affect you. At that time, we will also discuss testing solutions based on Calix Support Cloud and the GigaSpire or GigaCenters, powered by EXOS. This solution is designed to be the “easy” button of FCC Performance Testing solutions, with a quick set-up wizard utilizing solutions already in your network – no “testing” box required. Service providers may also partner with Calix in the setting up their test architecture through our Broadband Performance Testing Service.

We’re counting down the days until we see you in Las Vegas! Registration is your first step in your October 26-29 ConneXions journey. If you can’t make it to ConneXions, join us for a webinar November 5 at 1:00 p.m. CST to get an update on your obligations to implement performance testing in your network. Register here