The FCC today issued a notice to all facilities-based providers of wired and wireless broadband services that they have until Sept. 1 to begin reporting through the new Broadband Data Collection (BDC) process. BDC reports are part of the Commission’s ongoing progress toward drawing new, more accurate broadband maps needed for broadband funding programs.
“The BDC consists of a set of interrelated systems and processes to collect, validate and publish complete, granular, and reliable data on broadband availability nationwide,” the notice states. “Federal and state policymakers, in addition to the general public, have an urgent and compelling need for these broadband availability data.”
The Commission has delayed the beginning of its own Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, Phase II program until completion of the new maps. In addition, administration of new broadband support programs, such as the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program (BEAD), depend on BDC data. The FCC has acknowledged the need for new maps for several years, but did not receive an appropriation for BDC until late 2020.
BDC eventually will replace the FCC Form 477 process for collecting broadband data, which has long been the target of criticism. However, at present the Commission is requiring those that have submitted Form 477 in the past to continue to do so. According to the notice, until the FCC announces a Form 477 sunset date, carriers must submit both Form 477 and BDC reports every six months, each Sept. 1 and March 1.
BDC is gathering more precise information than Form 477. The Commission has opened a webpage to help carriers know what kinds of data to collect. It also scheduled a webinar for June 29 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time, to take broadband providers through its process.