Broadband Data Collection Program Requires New Reporting Obligation for Providers | Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP
The first of these semi-annual filing deadlines is September 1, 2022, which must contain the information requested by June 30, 2022.
How did we come here?
In March 2020, Congress enacted the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Available Act (DATA Act), requiring the FCC, among other things, to collect data on the availability and quality of fixed and mobile broadband Internet access services, to create publicly available coverage maps, establish processes for individuals and entities to challenge and verify coverage maps, and create a data set of all locations where fixed broadband Internet access service can be installed.
The Commission adopted rules in 2020 and 2021 implementing the BDC program in order to comply with the DATA law. The Data Act directs the Commission to (1) collect broadband geographic coverage data semi-annually to be used to create coverage maps; (2) prepare a comprehensive database of locations served by broadband; and (3) create a process to challenge broadband usable location matrix coverage data (Fabric).
The Fabric is a database of all locations in the United States where fixed broadband Internet access service has been or could be installed. Fixed broadband providers will report their broadband availability data using either (1) availability polygons or (2) a list of addresses or locations, and the Fabric will then form the basis of the report based on location or address.
Who should file?
BDC’s filing requirements apply to facilities-based fixed and mobile broadband Internet service providers, including interconnecting VoIP service providers. An entity is a facilities-based service provider if it provides the service using one of five types of facilities:
- the physical facilities the entity owns that terminate at the end user’s premises;
- facilities that the entity has obtained the right to use from other entities, such as dark fiber or satellite transponder capacity within its own network, or that it has obtained from other entities;
- unbundled network element (UNE) loops, special access lines, or other leased facilities that the entity uses to make connections to end-user premises;
- wireless spectrum for which the entity is licensed/manages/has obtained the right to use through a spectrum leasing agreement or comparable agreement; Where
- unlicensed spectrum.
Data law requires the FCC to collect data from “every provider of fixed terrestrial, fixed wireless, or satellite broadband” and document the areas in which the provider “actually built the broadband network infrastructure.” provider’s band so that the provider is able to provide that service. The FCC states that it has interpreted this provision to require reporting only from facilities-based providers. Further, the Commission has determined that resellers are not subject to the filing requirement, as the facilities-based providers, rather than a reseller, are in the best position to know and report this information.However, providers using UNE loops, access lines special facilities or other facilities leased to provide broadband access to end users are subject to BDC filing requirements.
Filers must submit broadband availability data, as of June 30, 2022, by September 1, 2022. These filings will continue to be due semi-annually on the same schedule as Form 477.
Note that BDC deposits do not not release service providers from their obligations under Form 477. However, service providers offering only the voice service (not the broadband service) is not required to submit its voice subscription data in a BDC filing; this data will be submitted in the Form 477 filing interface.
How to classify: what is “tissue?”
Broadband service providers who have filed fixed broadband deployment data in previous Form 477 filings already have access to a preview of the Fabric. Each company’s data will contain Fabric records for counties that overlap the Census Blocks reported in the Filer’s Form 477 Fixed Broadband Deployment Data. Registrants are encouraged to familiarize themselves with the draft version of Fabric to better understand the format of Fabric data and to develop a process for bringing their data into compliance with Fabric.
Eligible vendors will be required to sign a license agreement with CostQuest prior to accessing data. CostQuest will email [email protected] to the certifying person listed on each June 2021 Form 477 filing with fixed broadband deployment.
The Preliminary Location Fabric release will contain data elements for each broadband-enabled location, including: (1) a unique Commission-issued location ID, (2) the latitude/longitude coordinates of the location, which are within the boundaries of the fabric, and (3) address data for each location, if possible, along with additional information to assist registrants in associating Fabric points with their data.
Although BDC’s filing requirements apply to all facilities-based fixed and mobile broadband Internet service providers, different requirements apply to entities depending on the type of facility they use to provide the service :
- Broadband fixed wireline and satellite service providers must declare either polygon shapefiles or lists of addresses/locations that make up their service areas.
- Fixed Wireless Broadband Service Providers must declare their shapefiles in the form of propagation maps and propagation model details, or a list of addresses/locations reflecting their service areas.
- Mobile Broadband Internet Service Providers must submit propagation maps and propagation model details based on specified minimum parameters. Spread maps should predict outdoor coverage and include both (1) stationary street or pedestrian coverage and (2) mobile in-vehicle use. Mobile broadband providers must also submit “heat maps” showing signal strength data.
Fixed Broadband Service Providers submitting Availability Polygons should ensure that the polygons include, and only include, the Matrix locations to which the Submitter provides service or those to which it could provide service with a ” standard broadband installation”. Fixed broadband service providers that do not report the use of availability polygons must submit their broadband availability data using location identifiers that match the unique location identifiers issued by the FCC in later versions of Fabric. Registrants who wish to submit lists of addresses or locations will need to match their location data to the locations in the Fabric.
Failure to file the required data in a timely manner may result in penalties and it will be difficult to obtain waivers or extensions of the filing deadline. As such, registrants are strongly encouraged to access the preliminary Fabric and begin the work of preparing their data.
Data law requires the FCC to adopt a user-friendly dispute process for consumers, state, local, and tribal government entities and other entities or individuals to challenge the accuracy of coverage maps, availability information broadband data submitted by providers or information included in the Fabric. Challenges will be submitted through an online portal, and the FCC requires challengers to submit different information depending on whether they are challenging data provided by fixed broadband Internet service providers or mobile coverage data. Suppliers must either submit a rebuttal to the challenge or accept the challenge within 60 days of being notified of the challenge.
Additional information is available on the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection website and video tutorials are available on the BDC Help Center website under “Video Resources”.