By Ryan Johnston
The Broadband DATA Act requires the Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) to collect and release granular broadband service availability data. In effect, the Commission is working to create new broadband availability maps to replace maps based solely on Form 477 data. As the Commission implements new data collection and challenge process procedures, guidance could help communities that have yet to start their own mapping efforts.
Next Century Cities, in conjunction with the National Broadband Mapping Coalition and other non-profit organizations, sent a letter to the FCC highlighting the types of information and guidance that consumers and local leaders should be able to access. Additionally, on August 31, 2022, Next Century Cities Staff and allies met with the FCC’s Broadband Data Task Force to discuss the topics contained in the letter and raise concerns about the lack of transparency surrounding the Commission’s fixed service challenge process, who must report location fabric information, and how poor data can be verified.
Local officials also explained that the FCC must assist some communities with the fabric challenge process. A lack of resources and capacity all but ensures that some communities that will need to challenge the fabric data will simply be unable to do so. In addition, the FCC should explain how third parties such as regional councils of governments and nonprofits can gain access to the location fabric on behalf of the municipalities they represent. Each organization also reiterated concerns that speed test data would not be allowable as part of the challenge process.
In order for the Commission’s new maps to be as precise and accurate as possible, the Commission must provide guidance and clarity on every step of the data collection and challenge process. Without doing so, the Commission runs the risk of alienating communities that have good data to share.
You can read the full ex parte for the August 31st meeting here.