FCC has received 'thousands' of consumer challenges to broadband map
In a note on Monday, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel confirmed that the Commission has received "thousands" of challenges to its broadband map from consumers since the map was released in November.
"We know more are on the way. This feedback will help make the maps more accurate," she said.
Rosenworcel also reiterated that the broadband maps are a "pre-production draft" (emphasis hers) and not a finished product.
The update follows weeks of public criticism and concern from lawmakers, advocacy groups and community leaders that map inaccuracies may put states at risk of receiving less funding than they need for broadband infrastructure through the $42.5 billion Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. The NTIA has said it will announce BEAD funding allocations by June 30, 2023.
Much of that concern stems from the FCC's deadline of January 13, 2023, for challenge data.
Asked at a Senate hearing last week if it would be possible to get challenge data in by that deadline, Kimball Sekaquaptewa, chair of the Connect New Mexico Council said: "absolutely not." Sekaquaptewa noted New Mexico is likely missing "tens of thousands of eligible serviceable locations" on the broadband fabric, potentially "losing up to $500 million in the funding allocation."
In Vermont, the Community Broadband Board said this week that it estimates the FCC's map is missing more than 20,000 locations. To that end, Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders (D and I-VT) intend to join the board at a press conference on Wednesday, December 21, to ask for a 30-day extension to the January 13 deadline.
Similar stories are occurring across the country. Even the NTIA's Chief Administrator Alan Davidson recently told Broadband Breakfast that he's "incredibly uncomfortable" with the deadline but that NTIA is working with states to help them file challenges.
In her note on Monday, Rosenworcel reiterated January 13th as the target deadline but noted that challenges will continue to be accepted thereafter.
"While we will take a close look at any availability challenges filed at any time, because of the time frames for availability challenges set forth under the rules and the law, you will have the best opportunity for your availability challenge to be resolved ahead of NTIA's planned funding time frame if you file it by January 13," she said.
The FCC is accepting location challenges (e.g., the map is missing a broadband serviceable location) as well as availability challenges (e.g., a service provider says it's available at your address when it's not) from consumers. It's also still accepting "bulk challenges" of multiple locations from local governments and other industry stakeholders.
- FCC releases broadband map, opens public challenge process
- Five takeaways from final Senate broadband hearing of 2022
- With planning funds in hand, states turn to broadband consultants
- Senator seeks stakeholder input on Biden's broadband rules
- Group urges FCC to label anchor institutions as broadband serviceable locations
— Nicole Ferraro, editor, Light Reading, and host of "The Divide" podcast.