Broadband Data Collection / National Broadband Map

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On May 22, 2024, the FCC issued a press release announcing that Chairwoman Rosenworcel has circulated an Order and Declaratory Ruling that updates the FCC’s broadband data collection and audit processes as well as further updates to the FCC’s verification and validation processes for the National Broadband Map. The press release addresses the importance of an accurate National Broadband Map for targeting funding and related efforts to ensure that broadband service is made available to unserved and underserved communities across the country. The FCC is committed to updating the Map every six months as required by the Broadband Data Act and continues to make improvements to its data collection, audit, and verification processes. The press release states that the provisions of circulated Order and Declaratory Ruling would do the following:

* Clarify and strengthen the audit procedures to allow the FCC to better validate provider’s availability data.

* Create a process that better accounts for changes in broadband deployment over time while protecting the integrity of the availability data and results of challenges.

* Proposes changes to broadband data collection processes based on experience to date, as well as improvements to data validation processes in order to continue to improve the accuracy of the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric and broadband availability data.

Since the release of the FCC’s EA-CAM Order in July 2023 and subsequent guidance from the FCC related to the basis for individual EA-CAM offers and potential future adjustments to initial deployment obligations and support amounts, a significant level of comments and discussions have occurred regarding the need for improvements to the BDC process and the resulting Fabric and National Broadband Map. In response to these comments, the FCC has made changes to the process originally contemplated in the July 2023 EA-CAM Order. A continuing issue of significant concern is the service availability claims made by unsubsidized competitors as part of the BDC process and the need for additional verification and validation requirements. The EA-CAM process includes the potential for adjustments to the support and deployment obligations for participating providers to occur no later than 12/31/25. It’s critical that the support amounts and deployment obligations of participating EA-CAM providers not be unfairly adjusted as a result of inaccurate reporting by unsubsidized competitors through the BDC process. Such an outcome would not only be unfair to EA-CAM providers but also to the subscribers in their service territories.

The actual Order and Declaratory Ruling is being circulated at the Commission but is not yet available for public review. We will continue to follow this issue and will provide updates as more information becomes available.

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