The FCC recently made two announcements impacting broadband providers’ reporting obligations and participants in the Schools and Libraries program. First, fixed and mobile broadband service providers must submit broadband availability data in the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection (BDC) system between June 30 and September 1, 2022, as required by the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. Second, the FCC bolstered its Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF) and extended the deadline for beneficiaries to spend support payments.
The BDC’s biannual collection and dissemination of granular data applies to terrestrial fixed, fixed wireless, satellite, and mobile broadband internet access services. Although the FCC has established these filing dates now, it has yet to finalize the details. The FCC plans to make further announcements that instruct filers on how to prepare and format their BDC availability data. Instructions will address the types of data filers must submit, the proper file formats for upload, and the values that the system will accept and validate against other sources. The FCC may also move up or delay the filing window, depending on the progress of other parts of the BDC system, although any modifications must give filers at least 60 days’ notice. JSI will provide an update as soon as new information becomes available.
Meanwhile, until the FCC announces a sunset date, broadband service providers must continue to file broadband and voice subscribership deployment data using the Form 477 filing interface. Until the FCC decommissions that system, providers must submit such information in both the new BDC system and the existing Form 477 filing system. Voice-only service providers, however, need not submit their subscribership data in both systems and will instead continue to use the Form 477 filing interface.
Additional information can be found on the BDC website at https://www.fcc.gov/BroadbandData/.
On the ECF front, the FCC committed another $86 million in Emergency Connectivity Funding to support students and libraries and to help close the homework gap. Since it began in June of 2021, the ECF program has committed over $4.6 billion to support more than 12 million students and over 900 libraries. This latest infusion will provide over 350 schools, 29 libraries, and 8 consortia with over 239,000 connected devices and over 96,000 broadband connections.
In addition, the FCC’s Wireline Competition Bureau extended the date by which beneficiaries must use the funding to June 30, 2023. This one-year extension establishes a new deadline for ECF beneficiaries to request equipment, other non-recurring services, and recurring services submitted during the first and second ECF Program application-filing windows (the first one closed on August 13, 2021, and the second on October 13, 2021). Program beneficiaries can use the funding to support off-campus learning, such as nightly homework, to ensure students have the necessary support to keep up with their education.
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