Broadband Data Collection (BDC) FAQs

Using the BDC System

What is the deadline to file my BDC submission?

Each year, data as of December 31 is due the following March 1, and data as of June 30 will be due the following September 1.

How can I add a new user from my company/entity to access the BDC system?

If you are a BDC filer and have a new user who needs to access the BDC system, the new user should first create a username and password in the Commission’s Registration System (CORES).  Next, the individual at the entity who is responsible for managing the entity’s FRN (FCC Registration Number) should associate the new user with that FRN.  Instructions on how to perform these first two steps can be found at https://us-fcc.app.box.com/v/CORESRegistrationInstructions.  The new user can then go to the BDC system at bdc.fcc.gov, log-in with the username and password created in CORES, and be able to see the FRN for the entity. created in CORES, and be able to see the FRN for the entity.

Does the system have any support features built in to provide context around error codes that a user may encounter?

Yes.  Before even logging in to the system, filers can access tutorials and other materials through the online BDC help center, including a BDC System User Guide.  
Within the BDC system, a combination of colors, symbols, and text indicate to users where errors may exist.  For example, if you upload a file that is not formatted correctly or has unacceptable values then you will see red colors and symbols on the screen.  The system will also alert to which row and column is causing the error.  
The system will also flag potential errors or anomalies in your data, both within a file or after comparing across files.  These will produce a yellow hazard symbol.  In these cases, you can either In addition, users will receive a warning when the system has corrected a GIS file with geometry errors and requires confirmation from the user that the corrections are acceptable to the user.

Do my data need to include header rows?

Yes, except for subscription data.  Header rows are not required for subscription data, but they are optional and encouraged.  Header rows are required for all other data file uploads, including availability data files and supporting data files.  The header rows must match header rows provided in.

If I don’t have a study area code (SAC) or Form 499 ID, can I bypass entering those in the BDC system?

Broadband providers who don’t offer voice service and do not have a study area code or a Form 499 filer ID are not required to enter those in the BDC system.

Are file templates available for the files that must be submitted in the BDC system?

Yes, file templates and sample files are available now for download on the online BDC help center at FCC.gov/broadbanddata/help.  The help center includes individual articles on how to format each type of data file accepted by the BDC system.  The articles include links to download the relevant file templates and sample files.

Can I upload a list of addresses to report my fixed broadband availability?

No, the file you upload to submit fixed broadband availability data as a list of locations is not address-based.  It is based on location IDs that uniquely identify each broadband-serviceable location from the Fabric. 

Must subscription data be entered before availability data, or may we enter availability data prior to subscription data?

You may enter availability data either before or after you enter subscription data; the order does not matter in the BDC system.  However, you need to upload your availability data before you upload your supporting data.  And your subscription data, availability data, and supporting data must be uploaded before you can run the Final Data Checks, which you must do before certifying and submitting a filing.

The file I uploaded in the BDC system is taking a long time to process.  I see a “processing” message.  Is this normal? 

Yes.  The GIS data files you create to represent your service area may be large and complex, have a large number of vertices, and cover wide geographic areas.  Such files often take a significant amount of time to be processed by the BDC system, as the system performs data validations, subdivides data into smaller pieces (as necessary), checks for geometry errors, and conducts overlay operations (among other tasks).  It is normal for a file containing a large geographic footprint to take multiple hours to process.  The BDC system is analyzing the data throughout that timeframe and will alert you (and stop processing) if any hard-stop errors are found in a particular file.  See the BDC User Guide, specifically Section 11, for tips on how best to manage these data uploads.  For this reason, we encourage filers to begin uploading their data into the system as far in advance of the applicable filing deadline (September 1, 2022 for the initial filing window) as possible. We recommend following these steps to ensure a successful and time efficient upload of large polygon data: 

  1. Split large coverage areas into smaller pieces (e.g., by state or market), each as a separate file. 
  2. Run a GIS process to subdivide complex polygons (e.g., ArcGIS Dice tool, QGIS Subdivide tool) to limit the number of nodes/vertices to < 10,000 – recommended value for ArcGIS Dice is 7500 vertices. 
  3. Run a GIS process to convert multipart polygons to single part polygons (e.g., ArcGIS Multipart to Singlepart, QGIS Multipart to Singleparts) to split each distinct polygon into its own record. 
  4. Run a GIS process to repair any invalid geometries (e.g., ArcGIS Repair Geometry, QGIS Fix Geometries) into valid "OGC" standard polygons. 

I need to upload a large number of locations for my availability data?  Should I put all of the records in one file or divide it into smaller files?

If you need to upload a list of locations for your BDC fixed availability data that has more than 20 million records, please do the following:

  1. Divide the data into multiple files, so that each file has only 20 million records, and
  2. Zip the CSV file before uploading it in the system. This should result in smoother and faster processing of your file upload and rendering of your data on the map in the BDC system.

Can the Entity Information page, including the certifying engineer, be revised after the data is entered into the BDC but before submission?

Yes, the entity information that users enter for the first time for a particular FRN can be revised at any point.  To do so, navigate to the top right corner of the BDC system screen, click on Entity Information, and modify the form.  In addition, if you have a data contact entered as the default Data Contact on the Entity Information page, you can enter a different Data Contact for a particular filing when you are on the Certification page of the filing.  There is a checkbox to populate the information with the contact that you have on file (from the initial Entity Information) or you can enter a different person for the various contacts and certifying officials associated with a particular filing.

Can you submit some of your data, log out, and continue the submission later?

Yes, you can complete your submission over the course of days or weeks so long as you certify and submit by the deadline.  In the availability section, you can expect some of the files, especially GIS files, to take multiple hours to process.  

Are all filers of fixed broadband availability data required to provide supporting data?

Yes.  All filers of fixed availability data must submit at least some supporting data in the BDC system.  Fixed wireless broadband service providers that submit a polygon coverage area based on propagation modeling must submit supporting data that includes information on the propagation modeling parameters, link budgets, and clutter data used in the filer’s modeling, as well as infrastructure data.  All other filers of fixed availability data must provide information on the methodology used to generate the coverage area for each technology.  This should include enough detail that staff can understand how you determined whether to report service as available at a location.   Finally, wireline providers must enter, as part of their supporting data, from the aggregation point used in their availability data.

Form 477 and BDC

Does deployment data need to be entered into both the Form 477 filing interface and BDC system?

Most filers need to submit data in both systems.   The only category of providers who do not need to submit in the BDC system would be entities that only provide fixed voice service – these entities should continue to submit in only the 477 system for now.  For more information, see  https://help.bdc.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/articles/5508821985307-Information-for-Broadband-Data-Collection-BDC-Filer.

Did Form 477 change to include BDC data?

Form 477 is the same as it was prior to the launch of the BDC; it has not changed.  Form 477 data should be submitted in the FCC’s Form 477 filing interface at  https://form477mod-ui.fcc.gov/home, and BDC submissions should be filed in the separate BDC system at bdc.fcc.gov.  More information on which data should be included in which filing can be found here:  https/help.bdc.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/articles/5508821985307-Information-for-Broadband-Data-Collection-BDC-Filers.

Do I need to file? (And other entity-related questions)

Does an entity that is reselling another provider’s internet service need to file in the BDC?

No.  If a provider is only a reseller of broadband internet access service and it is not a facilities-based broadband provider, then it should not file availability in the BDC system.

Do providers of non-mass-market broadband services need to file availability data in the BDC system?

No.  Only facilities-based providers supplying internet access service are required to file data in the BDC system.

Can you explain ILECs vs. Non-ILECs?  If the entity is a combined regulated ILEC within a single FRN, what should they report?

Unlike the Form 477 filing interface, if an entity has both ILEC and non-ILEC operations, it does not need to create separate filings for these operations in the BDC system.
Within the BDC system fixed voice subscription section there is a separate line for ILEC vs non-ILEC fixed voice subscription data.  Your entity will not see the separate line if it did not indicate that it is an ILEC on the Entity Information page. 

Otherwise, the procedures and requirements for reporting fixed voice subscription data are the same in the BDC and Form 477 systems.

If a parent company has several subsidiaries or affiliates, how should it file in the BDC?

Similar to filing Form 477, an entity with multiple affiliates has options on how to file.  A service provider can file using a single FRN at the parent company or holding company level.  Alternatively, multiple subsidiaries or affiliates can submit separate filings under their own individual FRNs.  Either way, we recommend that service providers submit their BDC filings using the same FRNs they used when filing Form 477, as doing this will save time.  The BDC and Form 477 systems collect and maintain information on holding companies and their associations with affiliates.

Are landlords that provide broadband services to tenants required to file in the Broadband Data Collection?

Generally, when landlords provide broadband services to tenants in multi-tenant environments as part of a leasing arrangement, the entity from whom the landlord obtains the broadband service is the entity that must report the availability of the service in the BDC.  This is true, for example, when the broadband service provider owns and operates the broadband network equipment and infrastructure that delivers the service to the landlord’s premises, even if the broadband provider doesn’t have a direct customer or billing relationship with the tenants. 

But in some instances, the landlord could be required to file in BDC.  For example, if a broadband provider supplied only undifferentiated transmission capacity to a landlord, who then used that capacity (in combination with its own equipment or infrastructure) to provision internet access services to tenants, then the landlord, rather than the broadband provider, would likely be required to file in the BDC. 

It is critical that either the landlord or the provider account for the availability of, and subscriptions to, service at a location both to improve the quality of the FCC’s broadband availability data and avoid enforcement consequences resulting from noncompliance with the FCC’s filing requirements.   Accordingly, if there is any question about the filing obligation, the landlord and the provider should make sure that one of the two entities is meeting the reporting requirements.  Any questions should be raised with the BDC support team by submitting a request at https://help.bdc.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new

When an entity provides service using the network of another entity, which has the obligation to file in BDC?

Generally, when a provider markets service to customers exclusively by using another provider’s network, the network owner is required to file in the BDC.  If the provider marketing the service uses its own facilities, along with another provider’s network, to bring service to a location, the provider that markets the service would likely have to file in the BDC.  It is critical that one of the providers account for the availability of, and subscriptions to, service at a location both to improve the quality of the FCC’s broadband availability data and avoid enforcement consequences resulting from noncompliance with the FCC’s filing requirements.   Accordingly, if there is any question about the filing obligation, both providers should make sure that one of the two entities is meeting the reporting requirements.  Any questions should be raised with the BDC support team by submitting a request at https://help.bdc.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new

Preparing a BDC Filing

What credentials must an entity’s certifying engineer have?

A qualified engineer certifying a BDC filing must be one of the following:

  • A certified Professional Engineer;
  • A corporate engineering officer with at least a Bachelor of Science in engineering (BSE) degree who has direct knowledge of, and responsibility for, the carrier’s network design and construction; or
  • As a result of the recently granted by FCC staff, an “otherwise qualified engineer” may certify, which means an engineer with either:
    • A bachelor’s or postgraduate degree in electrical engineering, electronic technology, or another similar technical discipline, and at least 7 years of relevant experience in broadband network design and/or performance, or
    • Specialized training relevant to broadband network engineering and design, deployment, and/or performance, and at least 10 years of relevant experience in broadband network engineering, design, and/or performance.

If you wish to have your BDC filing certified by an “otherwise qualified engineer,” it must you must include the following certifying language in the “Explanations and Comments” box of your submission in the BDC system: “The engineer certifying our submission meets the minimum qualifications outlined in the Declaratory Ruling and Limited Waiver adopted on July 8, 2022 in WC Docket No. 19-195.”  Licensed professional engineers or corporate engineering officers making the certification do not need to enter this statement in the Explanations and Comments section.

What assistance is the FCC offering to small providers?

The FCC has published several resources in its online BDC help center at fcc.gov/broadbanddata/help.  These include articles and video tutorials on various topics related to preparing and filing BDC data, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), a User Guide for the BDC system, and links to file templates and data specifications. 

In addition, if these resources do not answer your question(s), you can request additional help by filling-out this form on the BDC help center page: https://help.bdc.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new.  In that form, you can request that an agent call you back or schedule a session to walk through specific, individualized issues related to your data and your filing.  While the help center agents will explain the process of preparing your availability data, answer your questions, and identify the cause of error messages, neither they nor FCC staff can upload your data in the BDC system or submit a filing on your behalf.

If I’m a service provider, do I need to include the Provider ID in my filing?

Your fixed availability data must be formatted to include the provider_id field.  However, if you are a service provider, the cells in that field can be null (or empty).  If you choose to include your Provider ID in the provider_id field, a list of Provider IDs for each provider can be found at https://us-fcc.app.box.com/v/bdcprovideridtable

If I'm a fixed wireless provider and don't use the propagation modeling adopted by the Commission, how should I report my availability data?

If you are a fixed wireless provider and the propagation modeling parameters adopted by the Commission for fixed wireless do not reflect your service area, you have the option to submit your fixed availability data as a list of locations.  To do this, you must gain access to the location Fabric data from CostQuest Associates (including executing a license agreement), align your location data to the data in the Fabric, conform your location list to the availability data specification, and then upload the data into the BDC system.  You also will need to provide in the BDC system information on the methodology that you used to generate your list of locations.

Do we report all locations with active or inactive service, or just locations with active service?

Your fixed availability data should include locations or coverage areas with existing customers as well as potential customers at locations that could be served with a “standard broadband installation,” as defined in section 1.7001(a)(19) of the Commission’s rules.

How should the provider using the polygon method to submit fixed availability data ensure that the polygon only includes locations in the Fabric?

Fixed providers reporting their availability using polygons are representing that they can serve all locations in the Fabric that are encompassed by their polygons.  We therefore strongly encourage polygon filers to access the Fabric to verify that their polygon coverage areas are accurate. After obtaining access to the Fabric, you can overlay your polygon onto the locations in the Fabric data . 

Should I report service to a structure that is within my larger fixed broadband footprint but to which I do not have access due to restrictions in place by the building owner?

No, you should not report that location in your fixed availability data because you could not make broadband service available to that BSL under the definition of a “standard broadband installation.”

If you offer fixed wireless, do you have to use polygons?  

Fixed broadband providers have two options for uploading their availability data, regardless of technology:

  1. Polygon data representing the provider’s footprint or service availability area, which contains data attributes about the service offered, including the technology and the maximum advertised download and speeds, or
  2. A tabular comma-separated value (CSV) file that includes a record for each location in the provider’s service area, including for each location the location ID from the Fabric as well as attributes about the service offered, including the technology and maximum download and upload speeds.

A fixed wireless provider can submit tabular data if it so chooses to identify the locations it serves using the Fabric.  Similarly, a fixed provider using any other type of technology can submit tabular or polygon data to identify the locations or areas it serves.  

Mobile providers must submit their availability data as polygons.

Mobile filers must provide a description of how each link budget was created, per Section 9.6 of the availability data specification, Mobile Link Budget Description.  What type of information are you looking for here?

This should include a few sentences explaining how the filer (1) decided which parameters to include in its link budget (or, if particularly relevant, exclude from its link budget) and (2) any information about standards or methods used in the calculations underpinning the link budget.

FAQs for Government Entities

Are governmental entities required to submit verified availability data in order to gain access to Fabric data for its jurisdiction?

No.  State, local, and Tribal governmental entities can go through the process of gaining access to the Fabric as described here:  https://help.bdc.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/articles/6785010654235-How-Government-Entities-Can-Access-the-Production-Location-Fabric-.  These entities do not also need to submit service availability data.  If the entity is interested in submitting bulk challenges to the Fabric data or to providers’ fixed availability data, then it would need to use the Fabric location IDs when filing such challenges; however, governmental entities are under no obligation to submit challenges as a condition of receiving access to Fabric data.

I am a governmental entity and have entered my information in the system to gain access to the Fabric data for my jurisdiction.  What’s next?

CostQuest will send an email to the contacts listed on the Entity Information page with an invitation and instructions to create an account and sign a Fabric licensing agreement.  Once this process is complete, the entity may download the Fabric data for the counties in their jurisdiction.

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.

If I am a Tribe or government (or associated entity) and also a service provider, do I register as a governmental entity or as a service provider?

Regardless of whether you are owned by a Tribal government or municipality,  if you are a facilities-based service provider with at least one end user you should register in the system as a service provider and submit availability data as a service provider.

Do government filers in BDC need to have their data certified by a professional engineer?

For government entities submitting challenge data, there is no engineering certification requirement for challenges to the Fabric or fixed availability data.  Challenges to mobile availability data submitted by means other than the FCC Speed Test app (or another FCC-approved third-party app) must include a certification by “a qualified engineer or official.” 

Governmental entities that submit availability data in the BDC must have a licensed professional engineer certify their filings. In a Declaratory Ruling and Limited Waiver released in July 2022, the requirement that availability filings be certified by a licensed professional engineer was waived for the first three BDC reporting rounds.  During this period, BDC filings may be certified by an “otherwise qualified engineer,” which is defined as an engineer possessing either:  

  1. a bachelor’s or postgraduate degree in electrical engineering, electronic technology, or another similar technical discipline, and at least seven years of relevant experience in broadband network design and/or performance; or  
  2. specialized training relevant to broadband network engineering and design, deployment, and/or performance, and at least ten years of relevant experience in broadband network engineering, design, and/or performance.   

Broadband Map

What information is available for download from the Broadband Map?

Users can go to the Data Downloads page on the map and download the fixed and mobile availability data submitted by broadband providers in the BDC.  The data files are available for download by state or by provider.  Note that the files are large.  The fixed availability data files are in a CSV format and will likely need to be opened using database software in a program other than ExcelThe mobile coverage polygon data must be opened in a GIS software program.

Challenge Process

How can a consumer file a challenge to the fixed broadband availability data?

The National Broadband Map includes functionality that allows any member of the public to search for an address and see the location on the map. Within the map, they are able to submit a challenge, or proposed correction, of the information shown on the map (See How to Submit an Availability Challenge).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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