FCC bolsters data collection for broadband maps


Aug 6, 2019

Will Collect Granular Geospatial Data Critical to Identifying Gaps in Fixed Broadband Availability

WASHINGTON, August 1, 2019—Moving to better identify gaps in broadband coverage across the nation, the Federal Communications Commission today initiated a new process for collecting fixed broadband data to better pinpoint where broadband service is lacking.   

Today’s Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking concludes that there is a compelling and immediate need to develop more granular broadband deployment data to meet this goal, and accordingly, creates the new Digital Opportunity Data Collection.

To provide the data required by the Commission, the Report and Order, among other steps:

  • Establishes the Digital Opportunity Data Collection—a new data collection that will collect geospatial broadband coverage maps from fixed broadband Internet service providers of areas where they make fixed service available.  This geospatial data will facilitate development of granular, high-quality fixed broadband deployment maps, which should improve the FCC’s ability to target support for broadband expansion through the agency’s Universal Service Fund programs. 

  • Adopts a process to collect public input on the accuracy of service providers’ broadband maps, facilitated by a crowd-sourcing portal that will gather input from consumers as well as from state, local, and Tribal governments.

  • Makes targeted changes to the existing Form 477 data collection to reduce reporting burdens for all filers and incorporate new technologies.

The Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeks comment on a number of issues, including: 

  • Possible additional technical standards for fixed broadband providers that could ensure greater precision for the Digital Opportunity Data Collection deployment reporting and ways the Commission can incorporate location-specific fixed broadband deployment data in this new data collection;

  • Collection of more accurate, reliable mobile wireless voice and broadband coverage data and incorporation of this information into the Digital Opportunity Data Collection; and,

  • Sunsetting the Form 477 broadband deployment collection following the full implementation of the Digital Opportunity Data Collection.

The new data collection will take effect after the Office of Economics and Analytics issues a notice announcing the availability of the new collection platform as well as reporting deadlines.  

Action by the Commission August 1, 2019 by Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FCC 19-79).  Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly and Carr approving. Commissioners Rosenworcel and Starks approving in part and dissenting in part.  Chairman Pai, Commissioners O’Rielly, Carr, Rosenworcel, and Starks issuing separate statements

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