FCC Establishes ACP Transparency Data Collection

On November 23, 2022, the FCC released a Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking establishing the Affordable Connectivity Program (“ACP”) Transparency Data Collection, which will collect information on the price, subscription rates, and plan characteristics of the internet service offerings of ACP participating providers as required by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (“IIJA”).

The Report and Order establishes the following requirements:

  • Data Filers: Providers participating in the ACP with enrolled subscribers are required to submit data for the ACP Transparency Data Collection.
  • Collection Structure: The Report and Order establishes an aggregate collection, as opposed to a subscriber-level collection.  Providers will be able to utilize the broadband labels to provide plan data, price information, and plan characteristics, provided that their broadband labels contain the appropriate unique identifier.  Subscriber data will be reported on a zip-code level, and providers will be required to submit zip-code level data on which ACP households also are enrolled in the Lifeline program, which receive the Tribal enhanced benefit, and which receive the ACP in high-cost areas.
  • Subscriber Privacy: The Report and Order concludes that collecting on an aggregate level adequately protects subscriber privacy, particularly in concert with existing FCC rules.
  • Timing of Collection: The Bureau is directed to determine the date for the inaugural collection, which will not be earlier than 90 days after the Commission announces OMB has approved the new collection.  The Bureau is also directed to establish the snap shot date.
  • Publication of Data: The FCC will publish non-provider specific aggregated data on a state level, including the average/median prices of plans in which ACP subscribers are enrolled within designated download speed tiers and the number of subscribers on plans within those tiers.  The data will be available on the FCC or USAC’s website annually.

In the FNPRM, the FCC seeks additional comment on:

  • The statutory requirement to revise ACP Transparency Data Collection rules, as mandated by Congress, including how to verify the data, and what new variables should be included to refine the data.
  • The value of subscriber-level data and methods of obtaining and encouraging subscriber consent.
  • Whether the FCC should collect additional data, such as more granular aggregated data, data related to enrollment processes, the digital divide, price, or plan availability or preference.

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