FCC Establishes New Digital Opportunity Data Collection Program

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The FCC has adopted a Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which aims to better identify gaps in fixed broadband coverage in the U.S. by collecting granular geospatial data. The Report and Order establishes the “Digital Opportunity Data Collection” program, which will collect geospatial broadband coverage maps from fixed broadband Internet service providers of areas where they make fixed service available. Additionally, the Report and Order adopts a process to collect public input on the accuracy of the service providers’ broadband maps, facilitated by a crowd-sourcing portal that will gather input from consumers as well as from state, local, and Tribal governments. Furthermore, the Commission will make targeted changes to the existing FCC Form 477 data collection to reduce reporting burdens on all filers and incorporate new technologies. The Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, among other things, seeks comment on: (1) possible additional technical standards for fixed broadband providers; (2) ways the Commission can incorporate location-specific fixed broadband deployment data in this new data collection; and (3) how to obtain more accurate and reliable mobile wireless voice and broadband coverage data for the Digital Opportunity Data Collection process. Comments in response to the Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are due 30 days after the order is published in the Federal Register, which has yet to occur, and reply comments are due 45 days after the order is published in the Federal Register.

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