Evidence Required to Dispute a Fixed Availability Challenge

If a provider disputes a challenge made to its fixed availability data, it must provide evidence in the BDC system that either:

  1. shows that the provider makes service available and is willing to serve the challenged location as reported in the BDC, or 
  2. counters the challenger’s assertions (for example, providing evidence that the location has access to service that uses the technology reported in the BDC, if the challenge is based on the type of technology reported).

Pursuant to FCC rule 1.7006(d)(3)(d)(2), providers must also transmit the evidence submitted with its initial response to the challenger at the time of responding.

This initial response is a provider’s sole opportunity to submit evidence that the FCC will rely on to determine the outcome of the challenge, if the challenge isn’t resolved between the two parties.  Providers should be as thorough as possible in their initial response to the challenge.   

In the second and final response to the challenge (due no later than 60 days after the initial response was due), 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 provider’s final submission.

If a challenge goes to the FCC for adjudication, it will be assessed solely on the evidence submitted by the parties.   

Below are some tips to keep in mind when submitting evidence in response to a challenge:

Tip – Submit evidence that is more than a mere assertion or restatement of the your reported availability.

  • Include specific information regarding why you believe the challenge is incorrect.  Evidence does not need to be complicated, but it does need to address the substance of the assertions made in a challenge and should not simply restate the availability reported in the BDC or merely assert that the provider could serve the challenged location.

Tip Provide documentation to support your response.

  • If you submit any diagrams, maps, or technical information as evidence, make sure you provide an explanation with them to ensure the reviewer understands the dispute.  Maps and charts should have a legend, any diagrams should have labels, and any screen shots or excerpts of communications should include a description explaining what they represent and how they are relevant to the response.
  • Consider that the challenger and/or FCC staff may not be as familiar as the provider with some circumstances associated with the challenge or the response.   Responses should provide descriptions and explanations where appropriate, so that the response can be understood without requiring the reviewer to make inferences or to refer to additional information outside the evidence submitted in the BDC system.
    • If a challenger asserts that service is not offered at a location as reported, consider including documentation of service offers made to, received by, and then rejected by the challenger. 

Tip Address each material element of a challenge directly, clearly, and with fact-based evidence.

  • Respond to the challenger’s specific claim about the unavailability of service at that location rather than a generalized form letter or simple assertion that service is available.
  • Include information on how you evaluated the challenge, including additional steps taken to demonstrate availability of broadband service.
  • Pay attention to the specific challenge category code and the substance of the challenge as it is filed.  For example, in responding to a challenge asserting the provider demanded excessive installation fee, it will generally be insufficient to show only that you can provision service at the location. 
  • While fixed availability challenges are often about broadband service availability, challenges may be specific to reported speed or transmission technology, in which case you should address this in your response.  For example, if a challenger asserts that service using the reported technology is not available at the location, the response should specifically demonstrate that the disputed technology is available.

Tip Consider network capacity limitations when evaluating a challenge. 

  • Broadband would be considered unavailable for purposes of the BDC if you cannot fulfill a request for service at the challenged location within 10 business days because of capacity limitations.  Limited capacity or placing a prospective customer on a waitlist means service is not available at the location.

Tip – Available broadband service must be advertised or otherwise accessible for purchase by potential customers. 

  • A consumer must have a reasonable opportunity to know that service reported as available can be purchased from the provider; otherwise, service offerings are theoretical and unavailable for purposes of the BDC.

Additional tips for Terrestrial Fixed Wireless providers:

Tip - Provide relevant viewshed and path analysis snapshot with technical details, (e.g., signal level (RSSI, RSRP), SINR, path loss, distance, antenna height, etc.) or the fixed broadband availability coverage maps as specified in “Section 6.2:  Fixed Broadband Availability Coverage Maps” of the Data Specifications for Biannual Submission of Subscription, Availability, and Supporting Data - March 30, 2023 .

Tip - Provide the following information about the base station serving  the challenger’s location: BS name/ID, BS EIRP(dBm), BS Rx antenna gain(dBi), BS location(lat/lon), BS antenna height(m) above ground, BS antenna azimuths(deg.), BS antenna mechanical down-tilts(deg.), RF link budgets, and relevant fixed broadband supporting data as specified in “Section 7:  Fixed Broadband Supporting Data” of the Data Specifications for Biannual Submission of Subscription, Availability, and Supporting Data - March 30, 2023 .

Tip - Provide the following information about CPE or compatible COTS CPE devices that would be deployed at the location: location, antenna height(m), CPE EIRP(dBm), CPE Rx antenna gain(dBi), and CPE radio specifications.

Tip - Provide a narrative that describes how the advertised speed can be achieved at the challenger’s location.

Tip – Include speed and/or signal strength measurements in a typical deployment configuration (if available).

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