Update March 2023: The post below was written based on information that had been released from the FCC and NTIA as of the date written. Since the post was originally published, we have learned additional information that supercedes what was originally published.
In November 2022 when the NTIA advised stakeholders of the January 13 date for filing challenges in order to have the challenges adjudicated in time to be reflected in BEAD allocations, the agency did not specify what type of challenges. Complicating matters, a blog post from FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel from September 2022 that discussed the challenge process focused on location challenges and did not mention availability challenges.
In January 2023, an NTIA spokesperson told Telecompetitor that the January 13 date for filing challenges only applied to availability challenges and that it was too late for location challenges to be reflected in the version of the map upon which BEAD allocations would be made. In February we learned that only bulk location challenges filed by November 10, 2022 were reflected in the location database released in November 2022, which is the one that will be used for BEAD allocations.
In March 2023, Telecompetitor published information from CostQuest, which created the broadband location database, in which a company representative explained changes that had been made to the location database released in November 2022 to correct issues raised when the first version of the location database was released earlier that year.
Original post follows.
The FCC released what it is calling a “pre-production draft” of the updated national broadband map today.
In a press release, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel called the draft map “the first step in a long-term effort to continuously improve our data as consumers, providers and others share information with us.”
The map will play a key role in determining where funding will be made available to cover some of the costs of deploying broadband in areas where it isn’t available today. The map is intended to include every broadband serviceable address in the country and to indicate where broadband is and is not available on a location-by-location basis.
Today’s first draft is expected to require a considerable amount of correction, however. Some sources have told us that it is missing a considerable number of addresses, while others have told us that boulders, swamps and the like have been misidentified as serviceable locations.
The FCC was under pressure to begin collecting broadband availability information from providers and began that collection prior to scheduling a challenge process for the broadband serviceable location data, known as the location fabric.
Accompanying the interactive first draft of the map released today are several web pages of supporting material, including instructions for filing challenges to the broadband serviceable location fabric or to data indicating where providers have service available.
Providers will be required to concede or dispute challenges and if they lose a challenge, fail to dispute it, or concede it, they will have 30 days to update their broadband availability data accordingly.
National Broadband Map Update
The FCC broadband map will be of particular importance to NTIA, which will be responsible for the $42.5 billion that Congress has made available for rural broadband deployments in the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. The funding is to be allocated to individual states based on the number of unserved locations in each state and the FCC map will be used to determine each state’s allocation.
Although stakeholders will be able to submit challenges to the broadband availability data at any time, NTIA has encouraged those wishing to file challenges to do so by January 13, 2023 in order for the challenges to be incorporated in the final version of the map that will be used to allocate BEAD funding in the summer of 2023.
Neither the FCC nor NTIA has yet announced when an updated broadband serviceable location fabric would be made available or when providers would be able to begin entering updated availability information into that fabric.
According to the web page material accompanying the broadband map, however, providers will be required to submit updated broadband availability data twice yearly—by September 1 for availability data as of June 30 and by March 31 for availability data as of the end of the previous year.
The FCC did not immediately reply to an inquiry from Telecompetitor asking if the March 31 deadline would apply for 2023. But if it that deadline does apply, the FCC will have a relatively short time to update the location fabric to reflect challenges as of January 13, 2023. The commission gave providers two months to enter the data on which today’s map was based and if the commission allows the same amount of time for the second data collection and if March 31 is the deadline, the updated location fabric would have to be finished by January 31.
One thought on “FCC Will Have to Act Fast on the Next Broadband Map Update”
I’m in a mountainous region of western North Carolina. For this area, the map is junk. It shows two local cable companies providing services in areas that are miles from the nearest cable. Said companies also refuse to extend service to those addresses. At my personal address, it shows wireless broadband as available yet AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile have zero coverage around me.
The average person isn’t going to bother looking at the map and filing corrections so I expect the maps will remain only slightly less garbage than they originally were.