The FCC Tuesday adopted additional rules to help ensure the agency collects precise and accurate broadband deployment. The additional changes will improve the FCC’s broadband coverage maps.
Under the old rules, the agency didn’t require specific and consistent data from providers. The new rules specify which fixed and mobile broadband internet access service providers are required to report availability and/or coverage data, and adopt requirements for reporting speed and latency for fixed technologies. The Order also requires fixed broadband internet access providers to report whether broadband services are offered to residential and/or business customers.
“The Commission’s top priority is to make sure that every American has high-speed internet access. To get that job done, we need to know exactly where broadband is and isn’t available, which is why I led the Commission to adopt the Digital Opportunity Data Collection in 2019,” said FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “Congress’s recent appropriation of funding and the FCC’s adoption of new rules build on the groundwork we’ve laid over the last few years to create more accurate broadband availability maps.”
The Third Report and Order creates standards for collecting broadband deployment data from state, local, and tribal mapping entities; other federal agencies; and third parties. The Order sets up a process for providers to submit and respond to challenges to fixed and mobile coverage map data. Among other things, it would require mobile service providers to submit, on a case-by-case basis, either infrastructure information or on-the-ground test data as part of the Commission’s investigation and verification of a mobile service providers’ coverage data. This information will also be used to respond to challenges of mobile broadband coverage in a particular area.
Mobile providers will be required to submit, for each 4G LTE or 5G NR propagation map they submit, a set of heat maps showing the signal levels from each active cell site. The Order establishes standards for enforcing data collection requirements. The Order also sets a process for continuing the Form 477 data collection as the Commission transitions to the new data collection framework.
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