A preliminary version of the broadband serviceable location fabric is now available, and the FCC encourages broadband providers to begin inputting broadband availability data into it.
It’s an important step in creating a more accurate broadband map, which in turn is needed in order to allocate tens of billions of dollars in funding that federal legislators have made available to cover some of the costs of bringing broadband to unserved areas.
The short-term goal is to ensure that providers have processes in place to correctly input broadband availability data into the preliminary location fabric. The commission noted that providers will need to re-input data when the final version of the fabric is made available but cautioned against waiting for the final fabric to begin inputting data.
All broadband providers will be required to submit location data about areas where they offer service into the final location fabric by September 1, 2022. The final location fabric is scheduled to be ready to accept data beginning June 30, 2022 and may include additional inputs and features not included in the preliminary version, the FCC noted in a public notice released late Thursday.
“Filing broadband availability data based upon the fabric is a new process, so we expect that it will take providers some time to work through their methodology for aligning their internal served location data with the fabric, and then to generate the data required for filing in the . . . system,” the FCC cautioned in the public notice. “While we understand that fixed providers cannot produce their broadband availability data as of June 30, 2022 prior to that date, establishing and testing a methodology and processes to create such data will take time and resources and can be started now.”
The public notice closes with an ominous warning to providers, noting that the commission previously made clear that “any requests for waivers or extensions of the filing deadline will ‘face a high hurdle even at the starting gate’ and that a failure to timely file required data in the . . . system may lead to enforcement action and/or penalties as set forth in the Communications Act and other applicable laws absent circumstances beyond a filer’s control.”
Broadband Availability Data
The broadband serviceable location fabric is designed to include the location of every home and business in the U.S. that has or could have broadband available to it. The fabric includes a unique identifier, as well as street address and latitude/ longitude for each location.
Providers have the option of submitting broadband availability information as shapefiles, also known as polygons, showing the borders within which the company offers service. Alternatively, providers can submit a list of locations that have service available, but the list must use the unique identifier for each location created in the location fabric, and those identifiers may change in the final version.
To gain access to the preliminary location fabric, providers will need to enter into a license agreement with CostQuest, the company that is creating the location fabric. CostQuest will be sending an email explaining how to do this to the certifying individual for each June 2021 Form 477 filing with fixed broadband deployment, the FCC said.
The commission also noted that it will give providers the opportunity to challenge broadband serviceable location data and will provide details about that in a future public notice.