Order Ends Form 477 Broadband Deployment Data Collection

Randy Sukow

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With a Jan. 13 deadline approaching for state and local governments, ISPs, and individual consumers to submit challenges to the Commission’s new National Broadband Map, rural broadband providers will have a slightly reduced regulatory reporting burden going forward. An FCC Order ends broadband deployment reporting through FCC Form 477 effective immediately. Providers will report deployment data through the Broadband Data Collection (BDC), which started up earlier this year.

The next BDC reporting deadline is March 1, 2023, and will cover deployments through Dec. 31, 2022. Providers last reported deployment data on Sept. 1 for deployments through June 30 on both Form 477 and BDC. The Commission continues to require internet providers and telcos to continue using Form 477 submissions to report broadband and voice subscription data. “Going forward, however, the BDC system, rather than the Form 477 filing platform, will be used for the submission of both the subscription data collected for Form 477 and the availability data collected for the BDC,” according to the order.

The FCC has been tracking broadband growth through Form 477 submissions every six months since 2000. The submission rules have required deployment updates by Census Blocks since 2013, but with the initiation of BDC, the commission has created a Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric, an attempt

to locate each home, business and agricultural structure that could receive broadband service. As expected, first draft of the National Broadband Map, is proving to be flawed. The Commission has begun accepting challenges to the hundreds of thousands of geographic locations identified in the Fabric.

The National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is planning to use the new map to determine how to divide funds from the federal Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program to states. Interested parties must file challenges to the map by Jan. 13 in order to affect BEAD decisions. Going forward, however, the FCC intends to continually update the map and Fabric.

NRTC has been working with NRECA to assemble a bulk challenge to the map. They have been asking electric co-ops to share “knowledge of infrastructure” information to submit in a single filing before Jan. 13. NRTC and NRECA are asking members to send data by this Friday, Dec. 23. The two organizations recently held a webinar with full details. A recording is available.

Update, Dec. 28: The FCC announced that the filing window for the second round of BDC reports opens on Jan. 3. “Facilities-based broadband service providers may begin to file in the BDC system data that reflects where they made mass-market broadband internet access service available as of December 31, 2022,” according to a Public Notice. Reports are due March 1.

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