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Battles of the FCC Broadband Maps

Verifying, updating, and challenging the data on the new FCC Broadband maps is essential to ensure the appropriate amount of BEAD money is available for unserved and underserved areas of the country. With over $42 billion in funding at stake, communities and service providers that want the most money flowing into broadband projects must do the data work.

“Maps are great, but maps have some challenges,” said Tammie Herrlein, Senior Analyst, Vantage Point Solutions. “They’re not always correct and may need a little help along the way.”

The first round of Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Broadband Data Collection (BDC) for data up to June 30 closed on September 1, 2022, followed by the first round of challenges that opened in late November 2022 with a scheduled closing date of January 13, 2022. An updated round of filing for broadband information valid through December 31, 2022, is scheduled to open on March 1, 2023. NTIA projects finalization of the BEAD Funding Map to be released by the end of June 2023 with more challenges being processed along the way.

“We have two types of challenges that can be submitted: Broadband Map availability challenges and the Bulk Fabric challenge,” said Herrlein. “Everything that’s happening now is going to have a big impact on the industry for the next six months and longer.”

Herrlein encouraged service providers to review the maps and submit challenges either on their own, or with help from a third-party such as Vantage Point, since misrepresentation by others could limit the potential for funding for their state and local service area. Service providers should also respond to challenges filed by others by submitting the appropriate data, enabling the FCC to arbitrate the claim.

“If you know crowd source data isn’t correct and it’s easy to respond to, why not tell your story?” Herrlein said.

Future BDC data filings by service providers will require the use of a professional engineer to certify the accuracy of the submission starting in 2024, one of many highlights that you can find by listing to the latest Fiber for Breakfast podcast.