Once a challenge is accepted by the FCC, the challenged provider has up to 60 days to file an initial response. For disputed challenges, the initial response is the provider’s only opportunity to submit evidence for the FCC’s consideration in connection with the challenge.
When a provider disputes a challenge in its initial response, a second 60-day period begins in which the provider is expected to conduct outreach to the challenger to attempt to resolve any factual misunderstandings with the challenger and confirm availability of the reported services at the challenged location. Based on the discussions with the challenger during this period, the provider will submit a final response. Challenges that are not conceded by the provider or withdrawn by the challenger in either the initial response phase or during the dispute resolution period will move forward to the FCC for adjudication.
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 fixed challenges, see: Overview of Bulk Fixed Availability Challenges.
For each challenge that is accepted by FCC staff in the initial review stage, 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 provider shown on the Broadband Map under its holding company name and the company has multiple subsidiaries or affiliates, each with its own FRN, the accepted challenge will be shared with the BDC Data Contact(s) for certain affiliated FRNs. The BDC system will determine which affiliate/FRN submitted availability data for the challenged location and share the challenge with that company.
Initial Provider Response
Providers have 60 days from receiving and being notified about a challenge to submit a response to the challenge, either in the BDC system or via an API. This is the maximum period for responding, and we strongly encourage providers to respond more quickly, if possible.
In responding, providers may select one of three options: “Concede”, “Dispute”, or “Concede - Service Change”. When a provider chooses the Concede – Service Change option, it indicates that the service was available as reported for the as-of date, but based on service changes occurring since the as-of date, the service is no longer available or was not available on the date of the challenger’s request. For disputed challenges, providers should include substantive evidence to rebut the challenge. FCC adjudication will rely solely on the evidence submitted with the initial response to adjudicate the challenge.
When a provider chooses the Concede or Concede – Service Change options, it is responsible for updating its availability data for the relevant as-of date within 30 days of the concession. 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 in the BDC system for making the required availability data updates as a result of conceding the challenge and certifying to the change. Using this option prevents the provider from having to refile their full biannual submission in the BDC system.
If a provider chooses to concede a challenge at a particular location, it should consider whether the reason[s] for conceding also apply to the accuracy of the provider’s availability data for the surrounding locations as of the reporting date. If so, providers should update their availability data as soon as possible and, in any case, within 30 days, to correct their original reporting about where service was available (see Commission rule 1.7009(d)).
If a provider disputes the challenge, the provider must provide evidence both in the BDC system, and separately to individual consumer challengers. This evidence will be automatically shared with bulk challengers through the BDC system.
The initial response is the provider’s only opportunity to submit evidence for the FCC’s consideration in connection with the challenge. If the challenge proceeds to adjudication, the FCC will only rely on the evidence submitted by the challenger in their initial submission and the evidence submitted by the provider as part of its initial response. Additional evidence submitted with the provider’s final response or outside of the BDC system will not be considered by FCC adjudicators. Note that providers are free to give challengers additional information not submitted with their initial response as part of their efforts to resolve challenges.
For more information on the evidence required to dispute a challenge, see: Evidence Required to Dispute a Fixed Availability Challenge.
Failure to Respond
If a provider fails to take any action in the system within either 60-day period, the system will automatically concede the challenge on the provider’s behalf. If the provider further fails to take action within 30 days after the automatic concession, the system will automatically remove the challenged location(s) from the provider’s availability data.
How Providers Should Respond to Bulk Challenges in the BDC System
When responding to bulk fixed availability challenges, providers may either respond to each challenge individually in the BDC system interface, or use an API to respond to the challenges in bulk. If responding in bulk via the API, providers can also use a single evidence file to respond to multiple challenges. Documentation explaining how to user 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
If a provider 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, the challenged provider should reach out to the challenger as soon as practical, 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. While providers should initiate and, if appropriate, maintain a dialogue with the challenger, challengers may also reach out to providers to discuss their challenge(s).
If a provider and challenger are able to reach an agreement during this period, either for or against the challenger’s initial position, the provider should enter this outcome in the final response part of the BDC system, as soon as possible. To the extent the provider agrees with the challenge, it should also revise its availability data accordingly (see discussion of provider final response below).
When the challenger agrees with the provider that the service is available as originally reported at the challenged location(s), it may withdraw its challenges (for information on how to withdraw challenges, see: [how to withdraw challenges link]). Alternatively, the provider may enter a final response that indicates the challenger concurs that service is available as reported.
We strongly encourage both parties to attempt to reach a resolution before the end of the second 60-day period (note that providers and challengers can resolve each element of a bulk challenge independently).
Provider Final Response
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. This response is the provider’s final response to the challenge. 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. The provider should only submit details concerning the status of its efforts to exchange information and resolve the challenge by engaging with the challenger. The FCC will not consider substantive evidence regarding availability of service submitted with a providers final response.
If the provider fails to submit a final response, the automatic concession and certification steps detailed above will occur.
FCC Adjudication Phase
When a provider reports that it could not resolve a challenge with the challenger, the challenge will be referred to the FCC for adjudication. The FCC will assess the evidence submitted by both parties 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, finding in favor of the challenger with regard to some challenged locations and in favor of the provider for others, based on the evidence submitted by the challenger and by the provider in its initial response.
If the FCC finds in favor of the challenger, the provider will have 30 days to revise its data in the BDC system, so that the provider’s data are 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. The location(s) will remain in the provider’s availability data, and the Broadband Map will indicate that the challenge has been overturned and will no longer show the location 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.