The FCC on Thursday voted to improve the agency’s broadband mapping process to better pinpoint where households and businesses have broadband and where broadband access is lacking. Commission officials said during the vote, the changes are meant to improve data collection while reducing the burden on carriers.
Both Commissioners Michael O’Rielly and Jessica Rosenworcel questioned the wisdom of using the Universal Service Administrative Company to handle the changes, noting that the USAC has never done data collection of this magnitude.
Commissioner Brendan Carr noted that it’s rare for federal agencies to re-think a process, however that’s what the FCC is doing. Now, the agency relies on a nearly 20-year old form to collect broadband location from providers. “Today, we change course and admit the old form 477 Form data may no longer fit its uses.” The item directs the FCC staff and the USAC to begin the new mapping collection process, “so we don’t have to rely on 477 any longer than necessary,” he said.
The Report and Order establishes “the Digital Opportunity Data Collection,” a new approach that will verify carrier-provided data. It should improve the FCC’s ability to target support for broadband expansion through the agency’s Universal Service Fund programs. The agency will also adopt a process for public input, facilitated by crowd-sourcing. Comments? Email Us.
By Leslie Stimson, Inside Towers Washington Bureau Chief
August 2, 2019