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The FCC Broadband Data Collection System has begun accepting broadband availability data that will be used to create the next National Broadband Map. Providers have until September 1 to submit data detailing broadband availability as of June 30.

“We encourage filers to submit their June 30, 2023, availability data as early as possible in the filing window,” the FCC wrote in a public notice.

“This will give filers an opportunity to address any problems with their data identified by the BDC system in time to make any necessary corrections in advance of the September 1, 2023, deadline. Failure to timely file required data in the new BDC system may lead to enforcement action and/or penalties as set forth in the Communications Act and other applicable laws.”

In a separate order, the commission encouraged those intending to filing bulk challenges to the new broadband location data to do so by September 8 to maximize the likelihood that the challenges will be reviewed and adjudicated in time to be reflected in the next version of the broadband serviceable location fabric. That version will be made available to providers and to state agencies in late December or early January.

Bulk challenges can be filed by service providers and state broadband agencies. The commission didn’t indicate a recommended filing deadline for individual challenges, which can be filed by anyone, but those challenges typically can be resolved in a similar time frame.

The FCC has released two versions of the National Broadband Map since the process of creating the map was overhauled. The goal of the overhaul was to collect more accurate and granular data about broadband availability.

To support this goal, the commission enlisted a third party, CostQuest, to create a database of broadband serviceable locations known as a “fabric.” The fabric is updated twice yearly, and shortly after each update is completed, providers are required to input broadband availability information, which is used to generate the next version of the map.

The current map shows availability as of December 31, 2022. It was used to make allocations to the states in the $42.5 billion BEAD rural broadband funding program.

The FCC has taken considerable heat over the accuracy of the map. But the next version of the map – the one that will be released at the end of the year and that will be based on the newly-released fabric and the data that providers will file by September 1 – is expected to be the most accurate yet.

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