On Tuesday, May 30, 2023, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC or Commission) released an updated version of its National Broadband Map (Map), which incorporates the information contained in the latest Broadband Data Collection (BDC) filings submitted on March 1, 2023, and reflects broadband availability as of December 31, 2022.
Notably, this new version of the Map will be used by National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to allocate the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) funding to the US states and territories. Although the FCC does still need to process approximately 25 percent of the existing Map challenges, the Commission is expected to complete that work relatively soon.
JSI encourages clients to review this latest version of the Map and to assess whether challenges to the Fabric location data or broadband availability data are needed. JSI has already determined that the Map incorrectly displays hexagons showing the percentage of the area covered with broadband, and we will continue to review the Map for other issues or problems.
We would like to underscore the importance of challenging the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric’s (Fabric’s) location data and broadband availability data to ensure the accuracy of the Map. JSI expects that states and territories will use future versions of the Map for their respective challenge processes to determine eligible locations for BEAD funding.
In addition to its use in NTIA’s BEAD funding allocations and in the states’ challenge processes, the Map will become an increasingly important tool used by the FCC for its high-cost Universal Service mechanisms. Among other things, the FCC will soon begin relying on the Map to determine buildout obligations.
Consequently, JSI encourages all service providers to stay engaged throughout the entire process to ensure the Map’s overall accuracy. In particular, service providers will want to carefully review the Map, consider whether any availability challenges should be raised, and respond to challenges as needed.
All service providers should further note that JSI has experienced technical issues with the challenge process, including system issues with the FCC’s application program interface (API) used for responding to challenges. These issues have caused providers to miss response deadlines and, as a result, concede to challenges.
In light of these issues, we recommend that all interested parties follow the established best practices for responding to challenges, including by responding well in advance of the relevant deadline to avoid unexpected system issues and by maintaining proper records that can be provided to the FCC in case of system issues.