On November 18, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released the first draft of its new National Broadband Map, a comprehensive, location-by-location view of high-speed Internet availability across the nation. The map is a more detailed and precise reflection of the availability of fixed and mobile broadband services across the country.
The new map can be accessed here.
While the FCC will not implement a deadline for data challenges, NARC strongly encourages communities to make submissions by January 13, the date by which NTIA will use the FCC map to determine each state’s allocation of BEAD dollars.
Unlike its previous census block-based maps, this updated map is built on a location-based model developed through the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection process. The map will be continuously updated with each filing period’s set of data, with the next cycle expected to span from December 31-March 1. Each filing window will then take place six months thereafter.
The new National Broadband Map and its future iterations are expected to be instrumental in determining the flow of funds for billions of dollars for broadband deployment from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
This includes the National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s (NTIA) Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program, which will provide over $42 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all 50 states and Washington D.C. NTIA has required states to conduct local coordination in order to receive these funds, and NARC encourages Regional Councils, Councils of Governments, Metropolitan Planning Organizations, and other regional organizations to contact and coordinate with their state broadband office to begin this process.
Submission of Bulk Challenges
Regional Councils, COGs, and MPOs are encouraged to review and validate the availability data presented on the new National Broadband Map to determine whether to submit a challenge. If your organization or local districts determine that a challenge is needed, the FCC has provided steps to follow here.
There is no deadline for data challenges, but submissions after January 13 will not be reflected in state allocations.
Challenges to an individual location may include incorrect information on a particular location such as address or unit count, a location’s geographic coordinates, a location’s broadband serviceability is incorrectly identified, or a location that meets the definition of a BSL is missing from the Fabric. Consumers will be able to engage in this individual location challenge process to submit challenges for their own residences or small businesses.
Understanding the Challenge Submission Process
Additionally, a walkthrough of the challenge process from a submitting entity’s perspective is available to watch here. Some key steps are included below.
- Access the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric dataset following these steps. Local governments must follow the steps provided in the link which include logging into the Broadband Data Center system and executing a limited end-user license agreement for the Fabric dataset. These licensing requests may take time to be processed so expect a processing window when submitting the access request. Delivery of credentials may take up to two weeks from the time your organization information is submitted.
- Familiarize yourself with the FCC’s definition of a “broadband serviceable location,” which will not necessarily include all structures at a particular location or parcel. More information can be found in the Bulk Fabric Challenge Specs Public Notice.
- Develop a strategy for requiring and validating the Fabric data in your geographic area.
- Align your data with the specifications set forth in the Data Specifications for Bulk Fabric Challenge Data document. Some of these specifications include, among other things, requirements to identify the name and contact information of the submitting entity, the Fabric location subject to challenge, the category of the challenge for each location, and evidence supporting the challenge. Further specifications require the challenge data file to include records for each location in a Comma Separated Value (CSV) format, all fields must be included in the file upload, and all values must conform to the descriptions, codes, or formats identified for each field in the Data Specifications document.
- Certify that the information you are submitting is true and correct (to the best of your actual knowledge, information, and belief) for each location that is part of the bulk challenge.
- Submit your challenge!
- FCC Broadband Data Collection Website
- September 7 FCC Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric Bulk Challenge Process Webinar Recording and Materials
- Visit the BDC Help Center for additional technical assistance materials for filing challenges to Fabric data.
- Broadband Data System Tutorials (Video Resources)
NARC will continue to monitor FCC updates and additional information will be provided soon.