The SamKnows CAF Solution streamlines compliance for all eligible telecommunication carriers (ETCs) participating in the Connect America Fund II program.
To help improve connectivity, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has launched the Connect America Fund (CAF) to extend broadband services to hard-to-reach areas of the country.
The SamKnows CAF Solution
The SamKnows CAF Solution is a cost-effective measurement platform for internet service providers (ISPs) looking to remove the headache of self-testing and outsource to a specialist company. Just last month, we were delighted to assist a large ISP prove their testing capacity before Phase II of CAF went live. To ensure a seamless process, our team took care of the entire CAF reporting requirements, including:
- Test methodology
- Test frequency
- Sample size
- Data analysis
- Reporting structure
- Data submission
- Installation of test software on residential gateways
With the SamKnows CAF Solution, there are no surprises. If you’re an ETC, you can ensure your network performance meets all CAF requirements weeks in advance, using our real-time data analysis platform, SamKnows One.
SamKnows One is the web-based, visualisation, and management platform used by all SamKnows clients. For the SamKnows CAF Solution, we have designed a specific format and measurement to collect performance data according to the CAF Performance Data Requirements, summarised below:
- A minimum speed of 10Mbps download and 1Mbps upload.
- Latency that is no higher than 100ms round trip.
- The option of at least one plan with a minimum usage allowance of 150 GB per month;
- The option of at least one plan with a monthly usage allowance that reflects the average usage of a majority of fixed broadband customers as announced by the Wireline Competition Bureau, annually. Whichever is higher.
- ISPs can offer a usage allowance that is at or above the usage level for 80% of their broadband subscribers if it is at least 100 GB.
- Rates reasonably comparable to rates in urban areas.
CAF raw data
The CSV files in SamKnows One lets you check that you are meeting all the reporting requirements in the leadup to the CAF deadline. The files are pre-formatted according to the CAF Performance Data Requirements. They display information on a state-by-state basis, or you can drill down to a specific location.
SamKnows One also generates charts that flag whether your network performance falls below CAF’s requirements. This gives you time to identify and respond to any network issues well before the CAF deadline, with the added bonus of improving your CAF-subsidised customer experience, where necessary.
SamKnows software installed on / attached to residential gateways
The CAF requirements call for measurements to be carried out from “software installed on residential gateways or in equipment attached to residential gateways.”
The SamKnows CAF Solution meets the requirements of both options put forward by the FCC, via the Whitebox or the Router Agent.
The Router Agent
The Router Agent can be integrated directly inside Customer Premise Equipment (CPE) and is already live across millions of CPE around the world. While it offers unrivalled flexibility and can be fully implemented via a software update, it is not necessarily a viable option for smaller ISPs who do not have control of the software running in their residential gateways.
The alternative option for smaller ETCs is the Whitebox. This is a hardware measurement device manufactured by SamKnows, capable of measuring fixed-line broadband connections of up to 1Gbps. It supports a wide range of network measurement and can defer measurements in the presence of cross traffic.
“Cross traffic” refers to the internet generated by people using their internet connection at the same time as when the Whitebox is scheduled to run measurements. If measurements run while the internet is in use then (1) the measurements will be impaired and (2) user-experience could be harmed. The SamKnows Whitebox is fully able to take cross-traffic into account. For a small deployment of the kind that the CAF requirements call for, the Whitebox is an ideal solution. It is also the test agent used by participating ISPs in the FCC’s Measuring Broadband America program.
Performance Data Requirements
- Software installed on or equipment attached to residential gateways.
- Download, upload, and ICMP latency tests, 24/7.
- SamKnows test servers, running on the Cloudflare infrastructure or a dedicated test server in the nearest FCC-designated IXP location.
- Real-time reporting, using SamKnows One. This includes metrics tailored specifically to meet the CAF reporting requirements.
- Pre-formatted data so that we can deliver data according to the CAF data-submission requirements within a day.
SamKnows provides the measurement platform for Measuring Broadband America and is the approved measurement system for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for ten years. We specialise in network performance monitoring, and currently operate in North America, Europe, Asia, Saudi Arabia, Australia, and New Zealand.
For more information about CAF performance requirements, please contact us today.