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The FCC adopted a Second Report and Order at its Open Meeting on November 17, promulgating rules requiring service providers to deliver more timely and actionable information to 911 facilities during network outages. The Commission hopes the new rules will streamline the network outage notification process and align the requirements imposed on different service providers.

Maintenance of 911 Special Facility Contact Information

The new rules require both covered 911 service providers (“C9SP”) and Originating Service Providers (“OSPs”) (i.e., cable, satellite, wireless, wireline, and interconnected VoIP providers) to gather and maintain up-to-date, accurate contact information for 911 special facilities. The providers must confirm the accuracy of this contact information at least annually. In this context, “special facilities” are entities enrolled in the TSP Program at priority Levels 1 and 2, which include major military installations, key government facilities, and public safety answering points (“PSAPs”), among others.

Harmonizing Special Facility Notifications for Covered 911 Service Providers and OSPs

The rule changes also harmonize the outage notification obligations across providers.  Under the new rules, both C9SPs and OSPs must notify 911 special facilities about outages by telephone and in writing via electronic means if the provider and 911 special facility have not agreed upon a method for notifications. This obligation previously applied only to C9SPs.

Providers must make the initial notification as soon as possible, but no later than 30 minutes after discovering the outage.  The content included in an outage notification must contain:

  • the name of the providers experiencing the outage,
  • the date and time the incident began,
  • the types of communications affected,
  • contact information at which the service provider can be reached for follow-up,
  • a statement on how the outage potentially affects the 911 facility,
  • the expected date and time of restoration,
  • the best-known cause of the outage, and
  • other pieces of identifying information.

Providers must also update 911 special facilities with additional material outage information as soon as possible after it becomes available and no later than two hours after the initial notification.

Notification When Ceasing Operations

The FCC also requires C9SPs that cease operations to notify the FCC by filing a notification no later than 60 days after the cessation of service. This notification is only required when a provider completely ceases providing covered 911 services as opposed to a situation where the provider might cease service to a particular 911 facility.

Annual 911 Certification Reporting Requirement

The FCC considered reducing the frequency by which C9SPs must file their 911 reliability certifications from annually to biennially. The Commission elected to continue requiring C9SPs to submit reliability certifications annually.

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The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) completed its first Broadband Data Collection (“BDC”) on September 1, 2022.[1] The Commission is now accepting and evaluating bulk challenges to the FCC’s Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (“Fabric”), which serves as the foundation for the FCC’s upcoming broadband data map. To ensure the most accurate broadband map possible, service providers, state and local governments, and other entities are strongly encouraged to submit data in the BDC system pointing out any mistakes found in the Fabric.

Challenge Process Background

Currently, the FCC is only considering bulk challenges to its Fabric, meaning filing entities must submit challenges or corrections based on multiple locations. The Commission will allow individuals and other entities to submit challenges to single locations once the broadband map has been published later this fall.

The FCC’s Fabric aims to map all Broadband Serviceable Locations (“BSLs”) in the country. BSLs are business or residential locations where a broadband connection has been or could be installed within ten business days of a request for service. The FCC continues to remind filing entities that the Fabric will not necessarily identify all buildings as a BSL, and therefore challenges must be predicated on FCC definitions of residential and business BSLs.[2]

As an example, one apartment building is considered a single BSL under the Commission’s definition, despite having multiple units that have or could have broadband connections. Accordingly, the FCC will not accept a challenge that attempts to include the individual units within the building as separate BSLs because the FCC considers the building itself to be the BSL, not the units. The Fabric does, however, account for multiple units within a single BSL; therefore, corrections can be made to accurately reflect the number of units and their corresponding addresses. Moreover, structures that have no apparent use for broadband (such as a shed used for storage or an abandoned building) will not be labeled as a BSL. It is important for challengers to familiarize themselves with the BSL definitions so that challenges are not rejected or missed.

The various categories of challenges are: (1) missing broadband serviceable location, (2) incorrect location primary address, (3) incorrect location unit count, (4) incorrect location building type code, (5) location not within footprint of correct building, (6) location is not broadband serviceable, and (7) additional information needed for location address. To determine whether to submit a challenge, filers can compare internal data with the Fabric data by executing a free licensing agreement with the FCC’s Fabric contractor, CostQuest Associates. For those entities that do not already have the Fabric data, more information on obtaining access to the Fabric can be found here.

How to Format a Challenge

Bulk Fabric challenges must include the name and contact information of the filing entity, the location(s) being challenged, the category of the challenge, and evidence supporting the challenge. Additionally, the challenges must include records of each challenge location in CSV format, and the data must be submitted in accordance with the Data Specifications for Bulk Fabric Challenge Data. Required data for the various Fabric challenges can be found in the Bulk Fabric Challenge Matrix and step by step guidance can be found on an FCC video tutorial on How to File Bulk Fabric Challenges in the BDC System.

In addition, the FCC’s Broadband Data Task Force held an online Technical Assistance Workshop on Wednesday, September 28, 2022, to assist entities who plan to file bulk challenges to data in the Fabric. The workshop reviewed how to open and work with the Fabric dataset and will also demonstrate possible approaches to identifying missing or mislabeled locations in the Fabric data set. A recording of the workshop will be available at the BDC Help Center within the next week.

Additional Information

The FCC encourages filers to submit challenges as soon as possible to ensure that accepted challenges are reflected in the Fabric maps used in advance of the December 31, 2022 BDC filing window. Nevertheless, there is no deadline for filing challenges and submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis. Filers can visit the BDC Help Center to find more information and resources concerning the challenge process, including a webinar recording explaining the challenge process generally.

Should you have any questions on the BDC program or the challenge process, please do not hesitate to contact Sean Stokes (stokes@khlaw.com), Kathleen Slattery Thompson (slattery@khlaw.com), or your primary contact at Keller and Heckman LLP.

[1] For more information on the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection, please see the rest of our BDC blog series: The FCC’s New Broadband Data Collection is About to Launch | Beyond Telecom Law Blog; The Who, What, When, and Where of the FCC’s New Broadband Data Collection | Beyond Telecom Law Blog; Overview of the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection Resources | Beyond Telecom Law Blog.

[2] Establishing the Digital Opportunity Data Collection; Modernizing the FCC Form 477 Data Program, WC Docket Nos. 19-195, 11-10, Third Report and Order, 36 FCC Rcd 1126, 1175-77, para. 126 (2021) (Third Report and Order).

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Earlier this month, the FCC announced that its 2022 911 Reliability Certification System is now open for Covered 911 Service Providers to file annual reliability certifications.  The filings are due on October 17, 2022.  Failure to submit the certification may result in FCC enforcement action.

Background

In 2013, the FCC adopted rules aimed at improving the reliability and redundancy of the nation’s 911 network.  Those rules require Covered 911 Service Providers (“C9SP”) to take steps that promote reliable 911 service with respect to three network elements: circuit auditing, central-office backup power, and diverse network monitoring.  The Commission identified these three network elements as vulnerabilities following a derecho storm in 2012 that significantly impacted 911 service along the eastern seaboard.

Applicability. The rules apply to all C9SPs, which are defined as any entity that provides 911, E911, or NG911 capabilities such as call routing, automatic location information (ALI), automatic number identification (ANI), or the functional equivalent of those capabilities, directly to a public safety answering point (PSAP).

Certification. The rules require C9SPs to certify annually that they have met the FCC’s safe harbor provisions for each of these elements or have taken reasonable alternative measures in lieu of those safe harbor protections.  The certification must be made under penalty of perjury by a corporate officer with supervisory and budgetary authority over network operations.

In 2018 and 2020, the FCC sought comment on changes to the 911 reliability certification rules, but the rules have not yet been updated as a result of those proceedings.

Enforcement Against Noncompliant Providers

Last year, the FCC entered into eight consent decrees with Covered 911 Service Providers that failed to submit their reliability certifications in 2019, 2020, or both.  A Consent Decree typically requires the recipient to admit it violated an FCC rule, pay a fine to the federal government, and implement a Compliance Plan to guard against future rule violations.  These Compliance Plans required the C9SPs to designate a compliance officer, establish new operating procedures, and develop and distribute a compliance manual to all employees.

Additionally, the providers were required to establish and implement a compliance training program, file periodic compliance reports with the FCC detailing the steps the provider has taken to comply with the 911 rules, and report any noncompliance with 911 rules within 15 days of discovering such noncompliance.

Looking Forward

C9SPs have about one month to confirm compliance with the reliability rules and submit a required certification.  Based on the FCC’s enforcement efforts last year, C9SPs would be well-advised to work diligently to meet this upcoming deadline.

For more information, please do not hesitate to contact Wes Wright (wright@khlaw.com; +1 202.434.4239) or your existing contact at Keller and Heckman LLP.

Keller and Heckman’s Telecommunication’s Practice continues to be the only law firm in the United States included in Broadband Communities Magazine’s esteemed 2022 Fiber-To-The-Home Top 100 list.

“My colleagues and I at Keller and Heckman are dedicated to providing counsel to a wide variety of organizations that are providing fiber optic infrastructure and services in communities across America,” said Partner Jim Baller. “We are thrilled that Broadband Communities Magazine continues to recognize our achievements in this field by once again including our law practice in the Fiber-To-The-Home Top 100.”

Every year, Broadband Communities Magazine celebrates organizations across multiple industries for their contributions toward building a fiber connected future, recognizing them in its highly respected Fiber-To-The-Home (FTTH) Top 100 list. “Fiber-to-the-Home” specifically focuses on the world of fiber optic communications infrastructure extending all the way to residential premises, often referred to as “future proof” because it is the most advanced and highest capacity vehicle for transmission of information.

About Keller and Heckman

Celebrating 60 years of excellence, Keller and Heckman is an internationally renowned law firm with a broad practice in the areas of regulatory law, public policy, and litigation. From offices around the world, they represent global companies and trade associations servicing a range of industries, including food and food additives, plastics, pesticides, industrial and specialty chemicals, consumer products, drugs and medical devices, transportation, and telecommunications. Keller and Heckman is a pioneer in the use of interdisciplinary approaches to problem-solving with an in-house scientific staff that works closely with the attorneys on matters of technical complexity.

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The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) launched its Broadband Data Collection (“BDC”) program on June 30, 2022. As we have previously discussed in the first and second blog posts of our BDC series, all facilities-based providers of fixed and mobile broadband Internet access that have one or more end user connections in service are required to file broadband availability data in the BDC system by September 1, 2022. In this post, we highlight resources available to filers navigating the BDC system.

Getting Started

As previously discussed, the purpose of the BDC is to enable the FCC, acting through its contractor (CostQuest Associates), to develop a comprehensive database of serviceable broadband locations where fixed broadband Internet access service has been or could be installed – the “Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric” (“Fabric”). Accordingly, in order to make the Fabric as comprehensive as possible, all facilities-based fixed service providers are required to report broadband Internet access service coverage and identify where such services are offered to residential and business locations. The rules establish speed and latency reporting requirements for fixed service providers and require terrestrial fixed wireless services providers to report the coordinates of their base stations. Mobile service providers are required to provide even more information. Given the breadth of data required to be filed under this new program, the FCC has rolled out a number of on-line resources to assist filers.

In addition to Keller and Heckman’s explanation on The Who, What, When, and Where of the FCC’s New Broadband Data Collection, filers may utilize the FCC’s Information for Filers webpage to gather general information regarding entities that are required to file data and what is expected of them. All data collected must be up to date as of June 30, 2022, and should be submitted by September 1, 2022. The BDC is a biannual data collection, so filers should also be prepared to file data as of December 31, 2022, by March 1, 2023.[1]

For a comprehensive understanding of the BDC system, filers should access the BDC Help Center. This resource is a one-stop-shop for all information relating to the program. Among other resources, the BDC Help Center has a link to the BDC Filer User Guide. The Filer User Guide provides step-by-step instructions on using the BDC system and making filings.

The Help Center also has a link to the BDC Availability Data Specifications. The Availability Data Specifications provide detailed information on the format of data submissions. Filers should review these specifications in order to understand how certain data files should be uploaded to the system and the requirements for entering data appropriately. Filers should reference the Availability Data Specifications while completing their data submission to ensure that all data is filed according to FCC requirements.

The BDC Help Center also has instructional video tutorials and webinars. It is recommended that filers view these videos before beginning the filing process in order to familiarize themselves with the BDC system.[2]

In addition to all of the above resources, should you have any questions on the BDC program or filing Form 477, please do not hesitate to contact Sean Stokes (stokes@khlaw.com), Kathleen Slattery Thompson (slattery@khlaw.com), or your existing contact at Keller and Heckman LLP.


[1] It is important for broadband Internet access service filers of Form 477 to remember that they must also continue to file BDC data until the FCC terminates Form 477. Telecommunications service and interconnected voice over Internet protocol providers that do not offer broadband service are only required to file Form 477 and do not currently need to participate in the BDC program. For those interested in learning more about filing Form 477, the Commission also provides Form 477 Resources.

[2] The BDC Help Center also provides ongoing system updates, public notices, and other news relating to the BDC, as well as answers to frequently asked questions about using the BDC system, and understanding the Location Fabric.

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With tens of billions of dollars being made available for rural broadband infrastructure projects, electric utilities – including rural electric cooperatives, publicly owned power companies, and investor owned utilities – stand ready to play a crucial role in bringing broadband to unserved and underserved areas of the U.S. Easement issues are a significant concern for many of them.

Utilities have easement agreements with private property owners that allow the utility to install poles and run wires across a strip of property. A single utility may have hundreds or even thousands of such agreements adopted at various times over a utility’s long history. While these easements were secured to transmit electric power, the addition of broadband infrastructure for the purpose of providing commercial communications services – even just an additional fiber optic cable –may potentially exceed the scope of the easement, leading to potential claims by landowners for damages based in trespass, unjust enrichment, or other legal theories.

Fortunately, an increasing number of states have alleviated this concern. Seeking to encourage the development of broadband infrastructure in rural areas, roughly 20 states have implemented some form of legislative fix, most within the past three years. These include: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Hawaii, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and West Virginia.[1]

Easements are Messy

If a utility’s easements were generally the same, or if they were negotiated with just a handful of landowners, the challenge would be less daunting: the utility could simply propose a set of easement modifications to accommodate communications infrastructure. The landowner may (or may not) seek additional compensation in such a case, but it would probably be manageable.

But electric utilities (or their predecessors in interest) have been around a long time. The easements may have been executed last year or a hundred years ago. They may involve a large number of landowners with disparate priorities. Some may be cooperative; some may not. Some may be difficult to locate. In short, attempting to amend a utility’s existing easement agreements is potentially a tall order.

Will the Existing Easements Work?

It is possible that a utility’s existing easements will accommodate the installation and operation of new fiber optic facilities within the easement. Several factors should be considered, among them:

  • What is the exact language of the easement? Is it expressly limited to the provision of electric service, or can it be interpreted more broadly?
  • Does the existing easement allow the utility to install, maintain, and operate fiber in support of electric service (SCADA, AMI, Distribution Automation, etc.)?
  • Do third-party fiber or cable communication lines exist within the easement?
  • What is the additional physical burden on the servient estate?
  • How do the relevant state’s courts decide cases involving contractual gaps or ambiguities?

While a number of cases have considered whether electric easements may include communications facilities within their scope, they tend to be fact-specific and not entirely consistent.

Assessing Risks and Rewards

Without protective legislation, an electric utility that seeks to deploy fiber infrastructure for commercial broadband within its existing electric easements will need to weigh the benefits of the deployment against the potential risk of legal action, factoring in the significant federal and state funding available to bring fiber-based broadband to unserved and underserved areas of the country.

If your utility has any questions about this topic or would like more information about broadband issues, please do not hesitate to contact Casey Lide (lide@khlaw.com), Tom Magee (magee@khlaw.com), or Keller and Heckman’s Telecommunications Practice Group (broadband@khlaw.com).


[1] The majority of these state laws are directed toward electric cooperative utility easements.

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As discussed in our initial post in this series, the FCC is about to launch its new Broadband Data Collection (“BDC”) program. Starting this summer, all facilities-based providers of fixed and mobile broadband Internet access services will be required to submit broadband data on a biannual basis.

In this post, we delve into the who, what, when, and where of the BDC filing obligations and process.

Who is Required to File?

The purpose of the BDC is to enable the FCC, acting through its contractor (CostQuest Associates), to develop a comprehensive database of serviceable broadband locations where fixed broadband Internet access service has been or could be installed – the “Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric” (“Fabric”).

In support of this initiative, all facilities-based providers of fixed and mobile broadband Internet access who have one or more end user connections in service on June 30, 2022, must file. In most cases, if you are currently required to file FCC Form 477, you must also submit data in the BDC. See details below.

In addition, the FCC’s BDC rules also allow and encourage federal agencies, as well as state, local, and Tribal governmental entities that are primarily responsible for mapping or tracking broadband Internet access service coverage in their areas, to submit verified availability data as of June 30, 2022.[1]

Finally, parties who are not themselves the reporting providers (e.g., public interest groups or competing providers) may submit verified broadband availability data as of June 30, 2022. These third parties will also be able to submit data as part of the BDC challenge and crowdsource processes. The FCC will provide additional information in future announcements about how to participate in these processes.

What Needs to be Filed?

While all facilities-based providers of fixed and mobile broadband Internet access must file information concerning the characteristics of their broadband services and the availability of such services, different information requirements apply depending on the type of facilities being utilized to provide service:

  • Fixed wireline and satellite broadband service providers must submit either polygon shapefiles depicting the locations served or a list of locations that constitute the service area of the provider. This will identify locations where the provider currently provides service, or could provide service, as part of a “standard broadband installation” within ten business days following a request, with no charges or delays resulting from extending the provider’s network.
  • Fixed wireless broadband service providers must submit either propagation maps and propagation model details or a list of locations that constitute the service area of the provider.
  • Mobile wireless broadband service providers must submit propagation maps and propagation model details for each network technology and for both outdoor stationary and in-vehicle mobile network coverage. Mobile wireless broadband service providers must also submit signal strength “heat map” data.

In addition to providing information on serviceable locations, affected broadband providers must  provide supporting data related to broadband services offered, including speed and latency.[2] Data specifications for BDC filings can be found here: BDC Availability Data Specifications.

The BDC rules require all facilities-based broadband providers to submit certifications as to the accuracy of their submissions by a corporate officer and a qualified engineer (if a corporate officer is also an engineer and has the requisite knowledge required under the Broadband DATA Act, a single certification may be submitted). The engineering certification must state that the certified professional engineer or corporate engineering officer is employed by the service provider and has direct knowledge of, or responsibility for, the generation of the service provider’s BDC coverage maps and that the information provided is true and correct.[3] Failure to include such a certification is subject to FCC enforcement penalties.

When to File?

The BDC system will open for filings on June 30, 2022, and all providers are required to file by September 1, 2022. Going forward, the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection will occur twice a year on the same schedule as Form 477 filings.[4]

Fixed broadband service providers may now access a preliminary version of the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric for the purpose of preparing their data and processes for the initial BDC filing window.[5]

Where (How) to File?

Filers must either submit data into the BDC system via file upload and/or web form or through an Application Programming Interface (API). The FCC has indicated that it will, in the near future, provide a system user guide and instructions on how to use the optional API and other technical assistance resources. Additional resources for filers are available in the BDC Help Center.

Compliance with the BDC will entail a significant amount of time, and broadband service providers should not delay preparing for the upcoming initial filing.

Our next entry will focus on the BDC challenge process.

Should you have any questions on the BDC program or filing Form 477, please do not hesitate to contact Sean Stokes (stokes@khlaw.com), Kathleen Slattery Thompson (slattery@khlaw.com), or your existing contact at Keller and Heckman LLP.


[1] Additional guidance for governmental entities seeking to file verified broadband availability data in the BDC can be found in this Public Notice released on April 14, 2022.

[2] As a reminder, facilities-based broadband providers are required to continue to file Form 477 until instructed otherwise by the FCC.

[3] 47 CFR § 1.7004; Note, the FCC is seeking public comments on a petition filed by the Competitive Carriers Association (“CCA”) requesting that the FCC clarify that BDC filings may be certified by a qualified professional engineer or an otherwise-qualified engineer who does not hold a professional engineer license.

[4] Generally, under the Form 477 program, data as of June 30th is due no later than the following September 1st, and data as of December 31st is due no later than the following March 1st.

[5] Additional information can be found in this Public Notice released on April 14, 2022.

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The Federal Communications Commission (“FCC” or “Commission”) is poised to implement a comprehensive overhaul of its existing broadband data mapping and collection process with a new Broadband Data Collection (“BDC”) program. Under the BDC, all facilities-based providers of fixed and mobile broadband Internet access services will be required to submit broadband data on a biannual basis. As discussed below, the initial filing window is between June 30, 2022, and September 1, 2022.

Ensuring nationwide access to affordable high-speed broadband service is a national priority. A critical but elusive step in this effort is accurate broadband availability data. This challenge is even more pressing in light of the unprecedented federal broadband funding being made available under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”)(See Keller and Heckman’s Broadband Infrastructure Funding Blog Series | Beyond Telecom Law Blog).

This entry is the first in a series of posts on the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection program and will provide background and an introduction to the program, as well as an overview of key requirements. Subsequent posts will delve more deeply into specific requirements as well as corresponding data collection provisions of the IIJA.

Current Broadband Data Collection Processes and the History of Form 477

Over the past two decades, the FCC has addressed the challenge of obtaining accurate broadband availability data, with the most comprehensive effort to modernize data collection coming in 2019 with the FCC’s adoption of a Digital Opportunity Data Collection (“DODC”) proceeding. Not long after, Congress passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (“DATA Act”). These two efforts pushed the FCC to work towards a data collection solution that fits today’s landscape culminating in the new BDC program.

Historically the FCC has collected broadband deployment data from facility-based service providers through FCC Form 477. In its current iteration, Form 477 collects data twice each year at the census block level, instructing service providers to report as “served” any Census block in which any homes or businesses are served by the service provider. Under this approach, if a provider makes fixed broadband available to one location in a census block, the entire block is considered served by the provider.

Digital Opportunity Data Collection and the Broadband DATA Act

In 2019, the Commission concluded “that there is compelling and immediate need to develop more granular broadband deployment data” and, to meet this goal, initiated a proceeding to create the Digital Opportunity Data Collection (“DODC”) program.[1] The FCC described the DODC initiative as “a new data collection that will collect geospatial broadband coverage maps from fixed broadband Internet service providers of areas where they make fixed service available.”[2] In addition to establishing the Data Collection, the FCC adopted a process for crowdsourcing information to allow the public to provide input regarding providers’ broadband coverage maps. As part of this effort, the FCC sought comment on sunsetting the Form 477.

On March 23, 2020, Congress enacted the DATA Act. The DATA Act requires the FCC to adopt rules regarding the collection and dissemination of granular broadband service availability data, with the goal of establishing a “Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric,” which will be a dataset of all locations in the U.S. where fixed broadband Internet access service can be installed. The data must be geocoded, compatible with commonly used GIS software, and updated at least every 6 months.

In creating the Fabric, the DATA Act requires the Commission to establish processes to (i) verify the accuracy of the data submitted by broadband service providers, (ii) collect verified availability data from other federal agencies, state, local, and Tribal governmental entities, and other third parties, and (iii) facilitate “a user-friendly challenge process through which consumers, state, local, and Tribal governmental entities, and other entities or individuals may submit coverage data to the Commission.

Over the past two years, the Commission has adopted a series of orders aimed at implementing the DATA Act and creating its new BDC program.[3] These include data submission requirements, verification procedures, and coverage maps necessary to create the Fabric, as well as establishing a challenge process as to what constitutes a “broadband serviceable location,” as well as rules on sunsetting the census-block approach used on Form 477.

Under the FCC’s BDC program, all facilities-based fixed service providers are required to report broadband Internet access service coverage and identify where such services are offered to residential and business locations. The rules establish speed and latency reporting requirements for fixed service providers and require terrestrial fixed wireless services providers to report the coordinates of their base stations. Mobile service providers are required to provide even more information.

On February 22, 2022, the Commission issued a Public Notice announcing the filing dates for the inaugural data collection under the new BDC program. Providers can begin submitting data on June 30, 2022, and all data must be submitted by September 1, 2022. On March 4, 2022, the Commission published Data Specifications for the Broadband Data Collection related to the biannual submission of subscription, availability, and supporting data for the BDC. The specifications provide guidance to filers on how to prepare and format availability and other related data for submission. On March 9, 2022, the Commission published two more data specifications, which provided additional detail about the technical elements of the data to be collected as part of the mobile challenge, verification, and crowdsource processes.[4]

The FCC’s implementation of the BDC and the initial filing window does not alter the on-going obligation of facility-based fixed or mobile broadband service providers to file the semiannual Form 477. Until the Commission announces a sunset date for the submission of Form 477 broadband deployment data, all service providers currently required to submit these data under Form 477 must continue to do so.

We encourage broadband service providers to closely review the data specifications in preparation for the upcoming BDC. Once the filing window opens, we recommend that providers submit their information as early as possible to allow for issues that may arise due to the new process.

Our next entry will focus on the who, what, how, when, and where of the BDC filing.


[1] FCC Establishes New Digital Opportunity Data Collection, WC Docket Nos. 19-195, 11-10, Press Release (rel. August 1, 2019).

[2] Id.

[3] Second Report and Order and Third Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking; Third Report and Order.

[4] FCC Publishes Data Specifications for the Broadband Data Collection; FCC Releases BDC Mobile Technical Requirements Order.

Photo of Casey Lide

We understand that regulatory compliance is not the most engaging issue. Whether planning to deploy a new broadband network or operating an existing one, ensuring that the network and services are fully compliant with various state and federal regulatory obligations is an easy task to put off. But if not addressed, regulatory compliance can turn into a very expensive problem.

Now would be an ideal time to identify and address any regulatory compliance issues for several reasons:

  • A regulatory compliance failure could have implications for grant funding. Many broadband projects have received funding support through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARPA). Subawards made through ARPA typically require recipients to comply with all applicable state and federal regulations as a contractual matter. Broadband grants made under forthcoming Infrastructure Act programs (BEAD, etc.) may include similar requirements.
  • Any transfer of control or acquisition of a broadband network or company will normally require a detailed review of the company’s regulatory compliance status. Transactions involving broadband providers that receive support from one of the FCC’s Universal Service Fund/High Cost Fund programs will involve close scrutiny to ensure the target company is in compliance with applicable requirements. Any outstanding compliance issues can significantly delay those transactions.
  • The FCC could implement an enforcement action, potentially resulting in fines and other adverse consequences.

As readers are probably aware, broadband service is comparatively “unregulated” (as opposed to “telecommunications service”). Consequently, broadband providers that are not also providers of “telecommunications service” have relatively few regulatory obligations. Nevertheless, a number of important regulatory obligations are likely to apply to most broadband providers, including the following:

  • Posting of a “network transparency” statement
  • Annual submission of Form 477 (broadband connection reporting)
  • Submission of data for the new FCC Broadband Data Collection initiative (as finalized)
  • Submission of a CALEA System Security and Integrity Plan
  • Compliance with Digital Millennium Copyright Act safe harbor requirements (copyright policy, etc.)

If interconnected VoIP is provided alongside broadband service, the regulatory compliance obligations expand significantly. In that case, regulatory obligations may also include, for example:

  • Annual submission of Form 499-A, and, if not a de minimis contributor, quarterly 499-Q (Federal Universal Service Program Reporting and Contributions)
  • Development of Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) compliance program and annual certification regarding such compliance
  • STIR/SHAKEN compliance certification
  • Annual disability reporting certification (per CVAA)
  • E-911 fee requirements

Even if you have undertaken a compliance review at some point in the past, keep in mind that the FCC’s rules are constantly evolving, and the nature of your services and customers may have changed as well.   It is important to periodically refresh past compliance decisions to ensure that they are still valid.

If you would like to explore whether your company or project is fully compliant with all applicable regulatory requirements – and what to do if you are not – we would be glad to speak with you. Please contact one of the attorneys in the Telecommunications Practice Group, or email us at khbroadband@khlaw.com to set up an initial discussion.

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Keller and Heckman Partners Jim Baller, Casey Lide, Tracy Marshall, Sean Stokes, and Wes Wright will present at a workshop during the Broadband Communities Summit to take place in Houston, Texas on May 2-5, 2022. The summit will feature presentations by community leaders focusing on providing high-speed broadband networks. It will also address the key legal issues at every stage, from preliminary opportunity assessment to ongoing operation and regulatory compliance. Jim, Wes, Tracy, and Sean’s presentation is titled, “Key Legal Issues Affecting Public Broadband Initiatives and Partnerships.” Additionally, Jim will present at a super session sponsored by the Coalition for Local Internet Choice (CLIC) on, “Broadband Partnerships for these Extraordinary Times.”

For more information on this event, including registration, please click here.