FCC Implements Rules for Broadband Mapping as Part of its Digital Opportunity Data Collection

The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) has released its Third Report and Order (“Order”)1 adopting additional rules for the Digital Opportunity Data Collection (“DODC”), also known as broadband mapping. Significantly, the Order establishes a process for broadband providers to respond to challenges to the accuracy of provider data, coverage maps, and the Fabric which is a nationwide database with geocoded locations for all areas where broadband connections can be installed. The Order follows the funding of the DODC and the Fabric by the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021.

The Broadband DATA Act requires that broadband providers report data that documents areas where it is able to provide service throughout its broadband network infrastructure. In the Order, the Commission determined that the reporting requirement only applies to facilities-based providers defining facilities-based providers as having “(1) physical facilities that the entity owns and that terminate at the end-user premises; (2) facilities that the entity has obtained the right to use from other entities, such as dark fiber or satellite transponder capacity as part of its own network, or has obtained from other entities; (3) unbundled network element (UNE) loops, special access lines, or other leased facilities that the entity uses to complete terminations to the end-user premises; (4) wireless spectrum for which the entity holds a license or that the entity manages or has obtained the right to use via a spectrum leasing arrangement.”2

The Order requires fixed broadband service providers to indicate whether the reported mass-market broadband service for each polygon or location they submit to the DODC is available to residential customers and/or whether it is available to business customers. The Order also establishes speed and latency reporting requirements for fixed service providers and requires terrestrial fixed wireless service providers to report the coordinates of their wireless base stations. These reporting requirements will not take effect until six months after the Office of Economic Analysis issues a Public Notice to announce the first filing deadline, which has not occurred.

Finally, the Order requires that all mobile service providers report both voice and broadband subscription data under the rules in effect on July 1, 2019 for all future Form 477 submission. The Commission will continue Form 477 data collection for at least one reporting cycle after this new granular reporting, but will not make any decisions about how many additional cycles the Commission will collect Form 477 data.

As part of the reporting requirements, providers must submit certifications of accuracy by a qualified engineer. If you have any questions, or would like assistance with reporting and the challenge process, please contact Dee Herman at dee@hermanwhiteaker.com or Hilary Rosenthal at hrosenthal@hermanwhiteaker.com.