Before the Federal government flows new broadband support funding out to unserved and underserved areas of the U.S., it must know where the service is robust and where it’s not.
In this effort, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) launched an online help center to assist internet service providers and other filers of verified broadband availability data in preparation for the inaugural Broadband Data Collection (BDC) filing window opening on June 30, 2022.
“These new filer resources help pave the way for the FCC to begin accepting more precise and accurate availability data through the [BDC],” Jean Kiddoo, chair of the FCC’s Broadband Data Task Force, said in a press release.
Ensuring high-speed internet access to unserved and underserved areas of the U.S. has been a bipartisan effort. The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act authorized six different grants and programs to help bridge the ‘digital divide’ and allocated more than $60 billion toward this goal.
To spend this money effectively, there needs to be an accurate understanding of what areas are unserved. Mapping is crucial in this effort, and the FCC is responsible for publishing this map of broadband availability, but its current map is plagued with inaccuracies.
In March 2020, Congress passed the Broadband DATA Act to help fix this problem. The act requires the FCC to create maps showing the availability of fixed and mobile broadband services across the country and identify areas that are unserved and underserved. It also requires the FCC to use more granular and precise data to develop these maps. Under the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, Congress provided the FCC with $98 million to complete that effort.
“Our new help center and support materials will help service providers and other filers of broadband availability data navigate the new filing requirements ahead of the opening of the filing window and will ensure that filers can hit the ground running on June 30,” Kiddoo said.
The new video tutorials explain the information and supporting data that filers of biannual fixed and mobile broadband availability data must submit in the new BDC system.
The help center also includes technical information on how to prepare availability data and subscription data for filing in the BDC and an option for requesting additional support.
All facilities-based providers of fixed and mobile broadband internet access services must submit broadband availability data through the Broadband Data Collection no later than September 1, 2022.