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Commpliance Group Files Comments in Form 477 Broadband Data Reporting Reform Docket; Implores FCC to Require USAC to Partner with Private Sector Expert to Administer Program

In recently filed Comments in the FCC’s Form 477 Broadband Data reporting reform proceeding, Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC’s consulting affiliate, The Commpliance Group (“TCG”), encouraged the FCC to reshape the state of national broadband data reporting and mapping to better suit the needs of both providers and consumers of broadband services.  According to TCG, the FCC is in a natural position to coordinate the different sources of broadband mapping information and the different entities seeking access to it through rules implementing Digital Opportunity Data Collection.  From 2010 to 2015, the FCC collaborated with the Commerce Department and the State Broadband Initiative (“SBI”) to create a standardized national broadband map with census integration.  TCG urged the FCC to return to this prior federal-state cooperative model.

The proposed Digital Opportunity Data Collection will have great value because no other entity is in a position to consolidate disparate broadband data sources and organize it to fit disparate business and consumer needs.  Commission collection of detailed geographic information, reliability, adoption rates, and other metrics will meet the often-competing requirements of the many different types of broadband providers and oversight groups.  The creation of a public, transparent GIS-based broadband location map will have great benefits for the industry as a whole.

TCG cautioned the FCC, however, to consider alternative approaches to delegating the oversight, management and administration of Form 477 and Digital Opportunity Data Collection program.  In its proposed rules, the FCC indicates it favors designating the Universal Service Administrative Corporation (“USAC”) as the program administrator.  Best known for its role in administering the Universal Service Fund (“USF”), TCG commented that it believes USAC lacks experience in the broadband field and recommends the FCC exercise caution before handing the keys to the Form 477 and Digital Opportunity Data Collection program to USAC.  TCG implored the FCC to explore a public-private structure, where USAC is tasked with sub-contracting the day-to-day mechanics of the program to a qualified, private sector company steeped in experience with the complex and unique challenges associated with the GIS-based broadband mapping system, crowdsourcing, and other facets of the program that USAC is ill-equipped to undertake without such expert assistance. 

Reply comments in the FCC’s “Modernizing the FCC Form 477 Data Program and Digital Opportunity Data Collection proceeding are due on October 7, 2019.

If you are interested in tracking developments in the proceeding or have questions regarding the Form 477 and broadband data collection and mapping, contact Drew Clark at apc@commlawgroup.com.  

GET TO KNOW DREW!

Mr. Clark is Of Counsel to Marashlian & Donahue, PLLC and its clients.  Having closely tracked the trends in and mechanics of digital infrastructure for 20 years, Drew possesses a wealth of knowledge about broadband law and policy, both at the federal and state levels.  As the Executive Director of Broadband Illinois, he worked with broadband providers (including fiber-based and fixed wireless/ WISPs) to navigate coverage, identify markets and tap into federal broadband programs.

Mr. Clark has been one of country’s leading voices advocating for improved broadband mapping efforts and a rational geospatial system for collecting broadband data. At Broadband Illinois, he implemented a widely respected GIS system for collecting data from Internet Service Providers.

Because he is intimately familiar with the headaches caused by the Federal Communications Commission’s Form 477 data collection system, he knows how to minimize the burden of the FCC’s soon-to-be-implemented Digital Opportunity Data Collection.

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