CostQuest Associates said today that it has officially been contracted to provide broadband location data needed to update the National Broadband Map. The FCC selected the company months ago but the contract award was delayed because LightBox, another company that bid on the contract, protested the decision.
According to CostQuest, the U.S. Government Accountability Office denied the protest late last month. The company said that although the protest delayed the project timeline, the first version of the location data, to be known as the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (BSLF), will be delivered later this year.
Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric
The BSLF is designed to include the precise location of all broadband serviceable locations nationwide. As CostQuest explained, the BSLF “will be used to match broadband provider submissions of service availability, and other information, to build more granular broadband location maps.”
The FCC recently gave providers a deadline of September 1, 2022, for submitting their service availability data.
In a press release, CostQuest President and CEO Jim Stegeman said the BSLF location data also will be available to state governments. The FCC Broadband Data Task Force and the Office of Economics and Analytics will provide further information about that, Stegeman noted.
The BSLF is a critical element of efforts to obtain more accurate broadband availability data. The current FCC data has been criticized by a wide range of stakeholders because it considers an entire census block to have broadband service, even if only a single location in the census block has service available to it.
As stakeholders delved into the issue, it came to light that there was no accurate database of broadband serviceable locations –either in government hands or from a commercial supplier.
And even though the Broadband DATA Act signed into law two years ago directed the FCC to fix broadband map inaccuracies, that act did not include funding to enable the commission to do that. That funding eventually came in early 2021.
Having accurate broadband availability data is extremely important at a time when the government has made an unprecedented amount of funding available to cover some of the costs of bringing broadband to unserved areas.
The FCC previously enlisted CostQuest to create the cost model that served as the basis for determining the funding offered to incumbent local carriers in the Universal Service high-cost fund and Connect America Fund programs.