FCC National Broadband Map

An Order and Declaratory Ruling circulating within the FCC aims to update the commission’s biannual data collection and audit processes. The ruling also proposes updates to the verification processes for the National Broadband Map.

This map is a major tool for targeting funding and other initiatives aimed at bringing broadband to unserved and underserved communities. Under the Broadband DATA Act passed by Congress, the FCC must release updated versions of the map every six months.

Broadband map processes underwent a major overhaul in 2022. Formerly, broadband availability was reported at the census block level. Since then, the map has displayed location-level information, although it has experienced some growing pains.

The Order and Declaratory Ruling has three main elements, including:

  • clarifying and strengthening agency audit procedures to ensure that the Commission can better validate service providers’ availability data;
  • creating a process that better accounts for changes in network deployments over time while protecting the integrity of the availability data and results of challenges; and
  • proposing modifications to data collection requirements based upon lessons learned, as well as enhancements to agency data validation processes in order to continue to improve the precision of the underlying Broadband Serviceable Locations Fabric and broadband availability data.

The FCC signaled its intention to address data collection for the broadband map at the beginning of the year. In late January, the bureau released a public notice seeking input for the process.  

Among other things, the notice wanted to know if users found the process user-friendly and, if not, what could be done to make it so. More broadly, the FCC sought input on “the effectiveness of the challenge processes in improving the quality and accuracy of our broadband availability data.”

The order is being circulated just days after the fourth iteration of the FCC broadband map was released.

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