Frequently Asked Questions about the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (“Fabric”)
ACCESSING THE FABRIC:
Who can access the Fabric and how can they access it?
Any entity or organization that requires access the Fabric for the purpose of submitting biannual availability or bulk challenge/crowdsource data as part of the Broadband Data Collection can obtain access the Fabric. The process to obtain access to the Fabric varies slightly for broadband service providers, governmental entities, and other entities. Select one of the links below for more information:
- Broadband service providers: How Broadband Service Providers Can Access the Location Fabric
- Federal, Tribal, state, and local governmental entities: How Government Entities Can Access the Production Location Fabric
- Other entities: How Entities Can Access the Location Fabric
How much does it cost to obtain a license to access the Fabric?
There is no cost. Accessing the Fabric is free. However, entities must first sign a license agreement with CostQuest Associates, the FCC’s contractor to create the Fabric, in order to access the Fabric data.
How do I get access to Fabric data for additional counties?
You can fill out a “Modify County List” form on CostQuest’s Fabric website once you have a login to that site. For information on how to access CostQuest’s site, see How Fixed Broadband Service Providers Can Access the Location Fabric or How Government Entities Can Access the Production Location Fabric. You may only submit counties from one state per request form.
I’m a governmental entity and would like to access the Fabric. How can I do that?
Please follow the steps outlined here: How Government Entities Can Access the Production Location Fabric.
If I already signed a license agreement for the Fabric, will I need to sign another license for future versions of the Fabric?
No, if you signed a license to use the Fabric, you will not need to sign another license to access future versions. CostQuest sends emails to the users identified during the licensing process whenever updated versions of the data are available with links to the data.
What is in the Fabric file that I received?
The Fabric is provided as a ZIP archive. Each archive consists of two files. One file (Active-FCC_Active_MMDDYYYY_ver) contains all of the location records within the counties included in your service area or jurisdiction. The other file (Secondary-FCC_Secondary_MMDDYYYY_ver) contains additional addresses corresponding to location_ids with multiple addresses, according to CostQuest’s data sources. Both files are made available in Comma Separated Values (CSV) format.
I downloaded the Fabric, but I’m not sure what to do with it or how to use it. Can you help me?
The FCC has a video tutorial available that explains what the Fabric data contains and how to work with the file you downloaded. You can find additional support materials by visiting www.fcc.gov/broadbanddata/help. If you need further assistance, you can submit a request using this online form.
Do consultants and vendors for governmental entities have access to the BDC system on behalf of the governmental entity that they are working for?
Consultants, vendors, and other third parties who are affiliated with or working on behalf of a governmental entity can get access to the BDC system, including the Fabric, and can submit data on behalf of (subject to the terms and conditions of the applicable license agreement the governmental entity has executed for access to Fabric data). The consultant, vendor, or other third party will need to be associated with the governmental entity’s FRN in CORES. The third-party entity would be able to submit data as if it was an authorized user or individual on behalf of the entity. Separately, if the consultant or third party wishes to submit challenge data on its own behalf (instead of on behalf of the governmental entity it works for), the entity can separately register in the BDC system as an “other” entity.
THE FABRIC DATA
Why won’t my fabric file fully open in Excel?
An Excel worksheet allows a maximum of 1,048,576 rows, so any rows beyond that cannot be viewed in Excel. To view the entire file, you can open it with a data management tool, such as Microsoft Access, SQL Server or PostgreSQL. More information can be found here: https://help.bdc.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/articles/7269950645531
What is a Broadband Serviceable Location (or BSL)?
A broadband serviceable location is defined as “a business or residential location in the United States at which fixed broadband Internet access service is, or can be, installed.” A residential BSL includes all residential structures, including structures that are (or contain) housing units or group quarters (as those terms are defined by the United States Census Bureau). A business BSL includes “all non-residential (business, government, non-profit, etc.) structures that are on property without residential locations and that would expect to demand Internet access service.” The Fabric reflects each BSL as a single point defined by a set of geographic coordinates that fall within the footprint of a structure, and each such location has been assigned a unique Commission-issued Location ID.
Why are locations with a BSL_Flag of False included in my file?
The locations in the Fabric that have a BSL_Flag of “False” are structures that have or should have broadband service but likely do not take or would not take mass market service (and therefore do not fall within the definition of a BSL) based on available data. Examples of such locations include certain Community Anchor Institutions and large enterprises. These locations can provide a reference point and context when filers are determining the BSLs in their service area. If you believe that such a location has been mis-identified as a non-BSL and should actually be a BSL (or vice versa), then you can submit that information as a Fabric challenge. Providing information on these locations in the Fabric dataset will make it easier for filers of bulk Fabric challenges to indicate that a BSL_Flag should be changed, as opposed to requiring the challenger to provide all new identifying information for a new BSL location.
Are dormitories, prisons, jails, and other forms of group quarters considered BSLs?
Group quarters (GQs), as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, are considered BSLs. The Census Bureau defines group quarters as places where people live or stay in a group living arrangement that is owned or managed by an organization providing housing and/or services for the residents.
GQs differ from typical household living arrangements because the people living in them are usually not related to one another. Group quarters include such places as college residence halls, residential treatment centers, skilled nursing facilities, group homes, military barracks, prisons, and worker dormitories.
What is the precision-level of a BSL (e.g. rooftop level)?
If the BSL represents a single-family home or another single structure, then the geographic coordinates of the location point in the Fabric should fall within that structure’s footprint or rooftop in imagery. If the location point represents a complex of buildings or another type of boundary, then its geographic coordinates may not fall on the rooftop or footprint of a particular structure.
I tried to upload location records from the Fabric into the BDC system and received an error message. Why?
The errors that you might encounter when uploading your location list are listed in Appendix D of the BDC User Guide. One of the more common errors you might encounter is an invalid Location ID. A possible cause is that the BDC system can only accept locations from the Fabric where the BSL_flag in the Fabric dataset is TRUE. The system will reject the file and provide an error message stating “Location ID [X] is invalid” if the file contains records where the BSL_flag in the Fabric is FALSE. In addition, the data must be formatted in accordance with the data spec.
Why does my Fabric data include locations that are outside of my service footprint or in census blocks for which I did not previously submit broadband deployment data in Form 477?
CostQuest makes Fabric data available on a county basis. You will receive location records for an entire county if you had previously filed Form 477 fixed broadband deployment data in at least one census block in that county. You should only report in the BDC the locations that you have a connection in service or could serve with a standard broadband installation. Each record in the Fabric dataset includes the 15-digit census block code for the location, so the filer can filter the data to remove locations in census blocks for which the filer does not (or cannot) serve or otherwise did not previously submit deployment data in Form 477.
I’m using the Fabric locations to submit my fixed availability data in the BDC, but there are either data elements for a location that I think are incorrect or locations that I think are missing from the Fabric data. Should I include in my submission the locations that I believe have errors? And how can I certify my submission?
Each submission of fixed availability data must be based on the version of the Fabric in use for that filing round. In submitting your availability data, you are certifying to serving locations in the Fabric; you are not certifying that your submission is comprehensive as to any locations that are not reflected, or that you reasonably believe may be misrepresented, in the Fabric. If you believe that you can serve a location that is not reflected in the Fabric, you should not attempt to report availability to that location in the current round. You should instead file a challenge to the Fabric and, assuming a successful adjudication of the challenge, report availability data for the location once it is reflected in a later version of the Fabric. Similarly, if you believe the Fabric identifies a structure that doesn’t exist or that isn’t a Broadband Serviceable Location, you should file a challenge to seek to have the location removed or recategorized. You may seek to report availability to locations that are identified in the Fabric, but that have other discrepancies from your own data (e.g., address information, relatively minor latitude/longitude differences, incorrect unit count), provided you have a good-faith basis for believing that the Fabric location corresponds to a location to which you have a connection (or for which you are capable of performing a standard broadband installation), and you file a challenge at the appropriate time seeking to correct the minor discrepancy in the Fabric data.
How do I correct the information about a location or add a location to the Fabric?
You can file an individual location challenge directly within the FCC’s National Broadband Map, or you can file a bulk Fabric Challenge to correct or add multiple locations. For more information about these challenges, please see:
I don’t seem to have Fabric locations for some census blocks that I included in my Form 477 fixed broadband deployment data. Why is that?
If a census block does not contain any housing units, based on data from the Census Bureau, there may not be any Fabric locations in those blocks. In addition, certain parcels may overlap multiple census blocks and have a single structure with multiple units (such as a large apartment building). In those cases, the single Fabric location for that structure will be assigned to just one census block. This differs from the way that the Census Bureau reports housing units, which would be to assign different housing units within that structure to different census blocks.
Will each unit in an apartment or condominium building be considered a separate BSL?
No. In the case of multiple housing units within a single structure on a single parcel, the location will have a single entry or record in the Fabric that corresponds to a set of coordinates within the structure.
The address for a Fabric location is incorrect. How do I fix it?
You can submit a Fabric challenge in which you can provide what you believe to be the correct address for a point location.
Please note that we want to avoid having a single address assigned to more than one location, so if the address you want assigned to this point is erroneously assigned to another point, please file a challenge for that other location as well – to remove the address where it is incorrect. If your challenge only assigns an address that is already “in use” to a new point, that challenge may be denied.
Why do certain locations in the Fabric not contain an address?
If a broadband serviceable location in the Fabric does not have an address listed for a location, either the data sources used for the Fabric do not provide an address for that location, or the Fabric contractor does not have enough confidence in the data, due to conflicting information in the data sources, to assign a primary address to a location. If you have what you believe to be the correct address for a location, you can submit that information as a Fabric challenge.
Why was this point selected as a broadband serviceable location?
The data processing models used by the FCC’s Fabric contractor, CostQuest, look for certain characteristics in structure footprints and related property assessment information, as well as other data sources, to select the structures in the United States and its territories that should be considered broadband serviceable locations. In some cases, manual review of imagery is conducted. If you have additional information about which structure on a parcel is a BSL, please submit it through the FCC’s Fabric challenge process.
Why is there a Fabric point on a structure that should not be a broadband serviceable location?
In cases where a parcel includes multiple structures, identifying which structure is a broadband serviceable location is a complex undertaking. The data processing models used by the FCC’s Fabric contractor, CostQuest, look for certain characteristics in the structure footprints and related property assessment information to select the structure that is most likely to be a BSL. In some cases, manual review of imagery is conducted. If you have additional information about which structure on a parcel is a BSL, please submit it through the FCC’s Fabric challenge process.
Why is there a location in the Fabric that does not appear on online maps?
There can be a few reasons for this. One is time; the date associated with the imagery used in online mapping platforms may be older than the date associated with the data used in the Fabric. Another reason could be that data from the relevant local tax assessor indicates the existence of a broadband serviceable location, even if that information conflicts with the imagery on online maps.
The FCC’s contractor for the Fabric, CostQuest Associates, relies on information from multiple sources – including parcel data, tax records, imagery, roads, and addresses – to generate the Fabric dataset. In cases where the data sources conflict, additional validation is conducted, and updates may be made in future releases. If you have additional information about the existence of a broadband serviceable location, please submit it through the Fabric challenge process.
The Fabric seems to have selected only one point on a cluster of apartments, condominiums, or town homes. Why aren’t the other units showing up?
When the modeling used to generate the Fabric detects a set of sub-parcels that are contained entirely within another, larger parcel, it is assumed that the sub-parcels are units within a multiple dwelling unit or multi-tenant environment, such as an apartment or condominium building. Consistent with the FCC’s rules and guidance, each standalone apartment or condominium building is considered a single BSL or location. The record for that BSL in the Fabric contains a count of the individual units within that building.
None of the outbuildings on a particular farm property – such as barns, silos, or chicken coops – are included as BSLs in the Fabric. Why is this and can I change it?
When there is a parcel with multiple buildings, the modeling used to generate the Fabric tends to select the structure on the parcel that is most likely the BSL. More information on the number of BSLs identified on parcels with multiple structures or units can be found here: https://www.fcc.gov/document/specs-available-bulk-broadband-data-collection-fabric-challenges. If you believe there are additional structures on a property that meet the criteria for a BSL based on the guidance in that Public Notice, please submit that information through the FCC’s Fabric challenge process.
The unit (e.g., apartments, condominiums, office suites) count you have for a building in the Fabric is wrong. How can I fix this?
If you believe that a location in the Fabric should have a different unit count, please submit the change through the FCC’s Fabric challenge process.
You have labeled a mobile home as a business. Why?
The assessment information used to develop the Fabric dataset can sometimes identify a mobile home as a business. Sometimes a parcel of land is considered a business because the land value is derived through rental income, and the land use is distinct from the living units placed on that land.
Certain areas of the United States or its territories seem to be missing locations. Why is this and what can I do about it?
The primary process for generating the Fabric relies on parcel, building footprint, address, and tax assessor data. When any of these data sources is missing or simply unavailable for a particular area, CostQuest uses processing logic to work with the data it has to generate the locations in the Fabric. However, in certain areas, particularly in certain U.S. territories, several underlying data sources are not available. CostQuest is always refining its processes and looking to obtain new primary data sources to make improvements for future versions of the Fabric. If you have data on BSLs that exist in an area, you may submit that information using the FCC’s Fabric challenge process.
An entire subdivision is missing from the Fabric. Why is this, and how can it be added?
On rare occasions, the imagery, assessment, and parcel information used to generate the Fabric may not be up to date with current, real-world conditions (such as the recent construction of a new subdivision). If you believe that additional BSLs should be added to the Fabric dataset, please submit the proposed update through the FCC’s Fabric challenge process.
The data you have in the address, street name, or zip code fields for a particular location hasn’t been used for several years. Why do you have it, and how can this be updated?
This can happen when one of the data sources used to generate the Fabric has not been updated by the provider of the underlying data source. For example, a county assessor may not update the address associated with a parcel after an assessment record for the parcel is first created. If you see this situation, please submit the proposed update through the FCC’s Fabric challenge process.
Can I use the Fabric data to create mailing lists, marketing campaigns, or network plans?
No. The use of the Fabric dataset is limited to the Permitted Uses described in the License Agreement with CostQuest. If you need a copy of your License Agreement, please contact CostQuest support, NBFsupport@costquest.com.
What is the address confidence field?
The address confidence field expresses CostQuest’s degree of confidence that the textual address is the correct one to be associated with the location in the Fabric. Address confidence decreases when data sources conflict on the street address associated with a location, or when there is no geographic reference information, such as a road name or parcel name, for a location.
What is an interpolated address?
An interpolated address is one developed by CostQuest when it cannot confidently determine an address based on its primary reference data. An interpolated address may be developed by assigning a house number, city, state, and zip to a location based on its position relative to road features and/or other reference information.
What is the land use field in the Fabric dataset?
The land use field is a county’s designation of the primary land use for a parcel based on assembled county assessor information used to generate the Fabric. Different counties and states use different descriptions to describe the primary land use for a parcel. CostQuest’s modeling groups these descriptions into classes, each of which is enumerated as a code within this field.
Are all of the addresses in the Fabric USPS deliverable?
No, not all. The addresses listed in the Fabric use the standardized format that the U.S. Postal Service uses for mail delivery wherever possible. However, some locations in the Fabric do not have addresses, and some have addresses that do not, or cannot, receive U.S. Mail.
Have the addresses been standardized and cleaned?
Yes, wherever possible the addresses listed in the Fabric use the standardized format that the U.S. Postal Service uses for mail delivery.
Are the addresses in the Fabric based on USPS-standardized address formats?
Yes. The Fabric uses USPS address standards, and most of the addresses in the Fabric have been certified by CASS (Coding Accuracy Support System) as being USPS-deliverable.
Will the full Fabric dataset be available? Is there additional information of about how it was generated?
The full Fabric dataset is currently available for download under a licensing agreement with the FCC’s Fabric contractor, CostQuest. Additionally, information on the methods used to create the Fabric dataset can be found here: Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric Methodology Manual.
For information about how the Fabric was generated, see this video tutorial and methods manual: