FCC Issues Guidance to Gov’t Entities for Filing Verified Broadband Availability Data

On April 14, 2022, the Broadband Data Task Force (BDTF), Wireline Competition Bureau, Wireless Telecommunications Bureau, Office of Economics and Analytics, and Office of Engineering and Technology (collectively the “FCC”) released a Public Notice providing details on the procedures for state, local, and tribal governmental entities to submit verified broadband availability data through the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection (“BDC”) system.  Governmental entities will be required to register for a 10-digit FCC Registration Number (“FRN”) in the FCC’s Commission Registration System (“CORES”).  This registration will require that the entity provide the Employer Identification Number (“EIN”), with the exception of Tribal governmental entities, which lack an EIN.

Entities that are primarily responsible for mapping or tracking broadband internet access service coverage for the jurisdiction and specialize in gathering and analyzing broadband availability data will be subject to a second process of authentication.  These entities are required to obtain a letter from the highest ranking executive official for the jurisdiction.  For example, state entities are required to submit a letter from the governor or equivalent official; local entities should submit a letter from the highest ranking senior executive for the county (e.g. county executive, manager, or similar), city (e.g. mayor or similar), or locality; tribal entities should submit a letter from an elected Tribal leader of the Tribal government.  The letter should identify the entity as the entity primarily responsible for mapping or tracking broadband coverage, and contain the name and FRN of the entity.  Letters sent on behalf of a local entity should also contain a certification that the signatory is the highest-ranking executive official for that jurisdiction.

Letters must be filed no later than 45 days prior to the opening of a BDC filing window.   Should the government decided to name a new entity, they must do so by filing a new letter no later than 45 days prior to the opening of a subsequent BDC filing window.  The first BDC filing window opens on June 30, 2022.

A state or jurisdiction may register more than one entity.  If the entities submit conflicting data for regions where each entity has identical geographic and jurisdictional boundaries (e.g. two state entities), then the data will not be published until the entities resolve the conflict or the executive files an amended letter noting how the data should be prioritized.  If the data is from entities that have overlapping geographic boundaries but differing jurisdictional boundaries (e.g. county entity verses a city entity or state entity verses a tribal entity), the FCC will publish both data sets, assuming they are verified and satisfy the indicia of credibility, and encourage the local entities to resolve the conflicts or inconsistencies.

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