Formatting Mobile Broadband Availability Coverage Maps

This Reference Guide describes how to format mobile broadband availability coverage maps per BDC requirements and data specifications.

Mobile Broadband Availability Coverage Maps refer to maps with polygon GIS data showing the extent of a mobile service provider’s broadband service for certain technologies, minimum speeds, and handset modeling assumptions (i.e., stationary only vs. both stationary and in-vehicle mobile). 

Facilities-based providers of mobile broadband internet access service and/or voice service must submit data about where they make mobile service available, including coverage maps for 3G, 4G LTE, 5G-NR, and voice technologies.  These coverage maps are based on propagation modeling, and the propagation modeling must be based on parameters for each combination of technology and speed specified in the Broadband DATA Act and adopted by the Commission, described below.  

Mobile broadband providers must submit a separate map for each technology and speed.  For each combination of technology and speed – that is, 3G at 200/50 Kbps, 4G LTE at 5/1 Mbps, 5G-NR at 7/1 Mbps, and 5G-NR at 35/3 Mbps – mobile service providers should submit a single map.  Each such map must show: (1) outdoor stationary service and  in-vehicle mobile service; and (2) incorporate a “heat map,” depicting ranges of signal strength within the coverage area.  Providers may submit each map in multiple files (e.g., by state or by market) to facilitate generation and submission of the GIS data, so long as the polygons in one file do not overlap with the polygons in another file for the same technology and speed.  Finally, the data file must contain GIS data with polygon geometries and associated data attributes.

1) Modeling Mobile Propagation Parameters 

Mobile broadband service providers must submit separate coverage maps based on the following propagation model parameters: 

  • 3G Coverage: Minimum download speed of at least 200 kbps and upload speed of at least 50 kbps, with a minimum cell edge coverage probability of 90% and a cell loading of at least 50%. 
  • 4G LTE Coverage: Minimum download speed of at least 5 Mbps and upload speed of at least 1 Mbps, with a minimum cell edge coverage probability of 90% and a cell loading of at least 50%. 
  • 5G-NR Coverage: Model the following two sets of parameters:
    • Minimum download speed of at least 7 Mbps and upload speed of at least 1 Mbps, with a minimum cell edge coverage probability of 90% and a cell loading of at least 50%. 
    • Minimum download speed of at least 35 Mbps and upload speed of at least 3 Mbps, with a minimum cell edge coverage probability of 90% and a cell loading of at least 50%. 

Mobile broadband service providers do not have to submit maps for a technology if it does not have a network in service using that technology under the prescribed parameters and it does not provide service to end-user customers using that technology.  

2) Modeling Mobile Environments:  

For each set of parameters described above, mobile broadband service providers must model and submit polygons within a single map that show broadband coverage for each of the following modeled environments: 

  • Broadband availability assuming the receiver – i.e., customer handset – is outdoors and stationery; and  
  • Broadband availability assuming the receiver – i.e., customer handset – is in-vehicle and mobile. 

Coverage modeled for an in-vehicle mobile environment should be entirely contained within the coverage modeled for an outdoor stationary environment.  Thus, coverage polygons should indicate either where the model predicts coverage only for an outdoor stationary environment or where the model predicts coverage for both an outdoor stationary and in-vehicle mobile environment.  

3) Using GIS Data Standards to Create Maps: 

All files must contain valid GIS data in a supported file format (i.e., ESRI Shapefile, ESRI FileGDB, GeoJSON, or GeoPackage). 

  • For ESRI Shapefile or ESRI FileGDB data, GIS data must be submitted as a single Zip archive file. 
  • GIS data must use the unprojected (geographic) WGS84 / EPSG:4326 coordinate reference system. 
  • GIS data must contain well-formed 2D vector polygon data according to Open Geospatial Consortium (OGC) rules. 
  • GIS data must contain only closed, non-overlapping polygons. 

Any variation in any of the required fields necessitates the creation of a separate polygon showing the relevant coverage.  In other words, each polygon must have a single value for each of the following fields: technology code ("technology"), minimum download speed ("mindown"), minimum upload speed ("minup"), minimum signal strength ("minsignal"), and modeled environment code ("environmnt"). 

To help avoid issues when submitting data, we suggest that filers use GIS software tools to check the validity of all geometries.  Additional information on how to do so is available on the BDC Help Center website at help.bdc.fcc.gov, and the FCC will make available resources to assist small providers in correctly formatting their data. 

4) Required specifications for the Data Attribute Table are summarized below. 

See Section 8.1.1 entitled GIS Data Attributes of the BDC Availability Data Specifications.

Data Attribute Field 

Data Type [Number of Characters] 

Example 

Description / Notes 

providerid

Integer [6]

130403

A unique 6-digit code generated by the FCC that identifies each service provider.  The list of Provider IDs is at https://us-fcc.box.com/v/bdcprovideridtable.

When the entity is a service provider, the values in this field can be null and will be ignored, but the field must be included in the file.

brandname 

Text 

ABC Mobile 

Name of entity or service advertised or offered to consumers. 

technology 

Integer 

500 

Code for technology used for deployed service (technology code). 

Value must be one of the following codes: 

300 – 3G 

400 – 4G LTE 

500 – 5G-NR 

mindown 

Decimal 

7.0 

Minimum download speed for modeled coverage in Mbps. 

For each technology code, the value must be the corresponding decimal value as reflected below. 

300 (3G) – 0.2 

400 (4G LTE) – 5.0 

500 (5G-NR) – 7.0 or 35.0 

minup 

Decimal 

1.0 

Minimum upload speed for modeling coverage in Mbps. 

For each technology code, the value must be the corresponding decimal value as reflected below. 

300 (3G)– 0.05 

400 (4G LTE) – 1.0 

500 (5G-NR) – 1.0 or 3.0 

minsignal 

Integer 

-110 

Minimum signal strength for modeled coverage in dBm, assuming an outdoor stationary environment. The value represents predicted RSSI signal strength. 

300 (3G) – Predicted RSSI signal strength 

400 (4G LTE) – Predicted RSRP signal strength 

500 (5G-NR) – Predicted RSRP signal strength 

Note 1: The value of the predicted RSSI signal strength must be greater than or equal to -120 and less than or equal to -50. 

Note 2: When the technology code is 300 (3G), the value of the predicted RSSI signal strength may be null when the area overlaps with another map with the same stationary value where the technology code is 400 (4G LTE) or 500 (5G-LTE). 

environmnt 

Enumerated Integer [1] 

1 

Integer code indicating whether the area is modeled for coverage when the user equipment (receiver or customer handset) is in an outdoor stationary environment only or in both in-vehicle mobile and outdoor stationary environments. 

0 – Outdoor stationary only 

1 – In-vehicle mobile and outdoor stationary 

 

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