FCC Announces Procedures for PR/USVI Mobile Network Coverage and Milestone Testing

On October 31, 2023, the Wireline Competition Bureau and Office of Economics and Analytics (collectively Bureaus) released a Public Notice announcing they had approved parameters and a testing methodology that mobile support recipients of the Bringing Puerto Rico Together Fund and the Connect USVI Fund may use to submit network data to verify that they have met their deployment obligations.  The window to submit coverage data will open on December 1, 2023, and close at 11:59 PM Eastern Time on January 30, 2024. 

Appendices A-C to the Notice set forth the parameters and methodology providers should use in their network coverage and performance testing in order to enable the Commission to determine whether recipients have met their commitments.  They include the categories of data to be collected, as well as the data structure and the format in which the data must be reported.

The Appendices also include parameters for drive and drone testing, which providers may elect to use to demonstrate that recipients have met their commitments.  This process involves providers conducting two tests in each “sampling unit” in a statistically significant sample of the network coverage areas.  The “sampling units” are randomly selected by OEA from the coverage maps submitted by the providers purporting to reflect their final milestone coverages.  Providers will conduct drive or drone testing in random locations within the specific geographies selected by OEA.  The Bureaus will then analyze the data from the test results and calculate a point estimate to determine whether the provider met its network coverage and speed commitments.

Alternatively, support recipients may elect to employ alternative testing procedures.  Providers electing to employ alternative procedures must fully describe, in detail, the testing parameters to be employed and submit them to the Bureaus for approval at least two weeks prior to January 30, 2024.  The Bureaus will review the proposal and notify the provider of the determination on the recipient’s alternative methodology.

All providers, regardless of their testing parameter election, will have 60 calendar days to conduct their testing.  For those that elect drive and drone testing, that period will begin the day after OEA provides the test sample to the provider.  For those electing an alternative methodology, that period begins the day after they receive notice that their alternative methodology has been approved.

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