Broadband Mapping and Data Collection
The Federal Communications Commission recently adopted new rules which seek to improve collection and mapping of broadband availability data through the Digital Opportunity Data Collection Order. The cooperatives are hopeful that these efforts will lead to better identification of connectivity gaps and have provided feedback to legislatures on steps that can be taken to further improve and ensure the accuracy of the Commission’s approach to broadband mapping which was adopted in August 2019, when it enacted the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. Key provisions of the Broadband DATA Act include requiring fixed and mobile providers to submit standardized broadband availability maps and developing a common dataset where fixed broadband networks could be deployed, over which service providers’ broadband availability maps will be overlaid. Another key piece of this legislation, which the cooperatives are in support of, seeks comment on processes that allow consumers, governmental entities, and other parties to challenge the availability data represented in the broadband maps and additional processes for verifying broadband availability data submitted by providers. This also includes efforts to reform Form 477 subscribership data that broadband and voice providers are required to file biannually which has allowed ISP’s to overstate their coverage area. The overstatements have caused many North Carolinians to unfairly lose eligibility for broadband funding.