The FCC is looking into whether one or more major carriers violated the mapping rules for the Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) reverse auction and submitted incorrect coverage maps. If true, that’s a huge concern, since the challenge process enables carriers and others to question the accuracy of the maps which are supposed to indicate where broadband exists. The maps are the key for Mobility Fund II, which would allocate up to $4.53 billion over the next decade to advance high-speed mobile broadband service in rural areas that would not be served without government support.
The investigation comes after a preliminary review of the 20,809,503 speed tests (across 37 states) filed with the agency in connection with the MF-II challenge process. The window for initial challenges closed on November 26. The Commission has suspended the next step of the challenge process—the opening of a response window—pending the conclusion of the investigation.
“My top priority is bridging the digital divide and ensuring that Americans have access to digital opportunity regardless of where they live,” said Chairman Pai. “In order to reach those areas, it’s critical that we know where access is and where it is not.”
A preliminary review of speed test data submitted through the challenge process suggested “significant violations” of the Commission’s rules, said Pai. “That’s why I’ve ordered an investigation into these matters. We must ensure that the data is accurate before we can proceed.”
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr said he shared concerns with Pai after monitoring how the maps align with consumers’ real-world experiences. “Now that the challenge process has closed, the data provided confirm that Chairman Pai has made the right call,” said Carr.
To formulate the eligibility map, mobile providers were required to submit current, standardized coverage data, which was used in conjunction with data from the Universal Service Administrative Company. The Commission then began a challenge process, where interested parties could challenge initial determinations that an area was ineligible for MF-II support. Comments? Email us.
December 10, 2018