How Providers Should Respond to Fixed Availability Challenges

The fixed availability challenge process begins when a challenger submits a dispute, or challenge, to an internet service provider’s service availability data, as shown on the National Broadband Map.  An individual fixed availability challenge may be submitted for a single location via the Broadband Map interface, or a bulk challenge covering multiple locations may be submitted in the BDC system.  

For information on the types of fixed availability challenges that can be filed, see: How to Submit an Availability Challenge.

For information on the methodologies that can be used for bulk challenges, see: Overview of Bulk Fixed Availability Challenges.

Initial Processing Stage

Challenge submissions first undergo a preliminary review by FCC staff.  Challenge submissions that staff determine lack required information are rejected at this stage.  

For each challenge that is accepted, an email notification is sent from BroadbandMapNotifications@fcc.gov to the provider’s Data Contact entered in the Entity Information page in the BDC system.  

Each provider’s BDC Data Contact should ensure that emails from this account are not being blocked by spam filters or other email filtering features. The BDC Data Contact should also ensure that the notification will be promptly routed to whomever in the provider’s organization is responsible for responding to challenges, if that isn’t the BDC Data Contact.  

When a challenge is submitted against a company that is shown on the Broadband Map under its holding company name and the company has multiple companies affiliated with it, each with their own FRN, the accepted challenge will be shared with the Data Contact for the relevant affiliate’s FRN.  The BDC system will determine which affiliate/FRN submitted availability data for the challenged location and share the challenge with that company.

Provider Response

Providers have 60 days from receiving and being notified about a challenge to submit a response in the BDC system.  This is the maximum period for responding, and we strongly encourage providers to respond more quickly, if possible.

In responding, providers may either “Concede” or “Dispute” the challenge.  When a provider concedes a challenge, it is responsible for updating its availability data for the relevant as-of date within 30 days of the concession, so that the data reflect the challenge.  For example, if a challenger asserts that a provider’s service isn’t available at a particular location, and the provider concedes that fact, the provider must, within 30 days of the concession, remove the location from the availability data filed in the BDC.  

There is a streamlined option for making the required availability data updates by accepting the challenge assertions in the BDC system and certifying to the change.  This avoids having to do a full refile of the provider’s data in the BDC system, and we encourage providers to use this option to the extent that they are able to do so. 

If a provider disputes the allegation(s) raised by the challenger, the provider must provide evidence in the BDC system, and separately to the challenger.  For more information on the evidence required to dispute a challenge, see: Evidence Required to Dispute a Fixed Availability Challenge.

When responding to bulk availability challenges, providers may either respond to each challenge individually, or to use an API to respond to the submission in bulk.  Documentation explaining how to use the API is available at https://us-fcc.box.com/v/bdc-fixed-response-api-spec and the API swagger file is available at https://us-fcc.box.com/v/bdc-fixed-response-api-swagger.

60-day Period for Provider/Challenger Resolution Efforts

Once a provider indicates in the BDC system that it disputes a challenge, the provider and the challenger have 60 days to attempt to resolve the challenge among themselves before the FCC adjudicates the challenge. 

During this period, a provider should reach out to the challenger, using the point of contact listed with the challenge, either to indicate that it makes service available at the challenger’s location or to otherwise explain why its availability data are correct. Providers will need to initiate and, if appropriate, maintain a dialogue with the challenger.  This dialogue should include communicating information that the challenger may not have understood about the availability of the provider’s service.   

If a provider is able to reach an agreement with a challenger during this period, either for or against the challenger’s initial position, the provider should enter in the system, as soon as possible, the outcome and, to the extent the provider agrees with the challenge, revise its availability data accordingly.

We strongly encourage providers to quickly address a challenge and attempt to reach a resolution before the end of the 60-day period (note that providers and challengers can resolve each element of a bulk challenge independently).  

By the end of the second 60-day period, the provider must report the outcome of its negotiation process with the challenger in the BDC system.  If the provider continues to dispute the challenge at this point, it must provide a reason why the challenge could not be resolved among the parties.

FCC Adjudication Phase

If a provider reports that it couldn’t resolve a challenge with the challenger, the challenge will be referred for adjudication by the FCC.  The FCC will assess the evidence submitted in the BDC system and make a determination in favor of the challenger or in favor of the provider.  In the case of bulk challenges, the FCC may partially agree or disagree with a bulk submission after separately adjudicating all of the individual submissions in the bulk challenge.  

In the case of a finding in favor of the challenger, the provider will have 30 days to revise its data in the BDC system, consistent with the decision.  Note that the streamlined option for correcting availability data, highlighted above, will again be available at this point to facilitate revisions.  In the event of a finding in the provider’s favor, the challenge concludes, and the location(s) will no longer be identified on the map as "Challenged”. 

Providers that require additional assistance in navigating the process of responding to challenges can submit a help request using the Get Help button.

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