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.
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. 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. 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.
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.
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 (email@example.com), Kathleen Slattery Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), or your existing contact at Keller and Heckman LLP.
 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.
 As a reminder, facilities-based broadband providers are required to continue to file Form 477 until instructed otherwise by the FCC.
 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.
 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.
 Additional information can be found in this Public Notice released on April 14, 2022.