Are governmental entities required to submit verified availability data in order to gain access to Fabric data for its jurisdiction?
No. Governmental entities are not required to submit broadband availability data unless they provide mass-market broadband internet access services. State, local, and Tribal governmental entities are under no obligation to submit challenges as a condition of receiving access to Fabric data. They can simply 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-. Stated another way, a governmental entity may obtain access to Fabric data and later decide not to submit any challenges to the Fabric or the fixed broadband availability data published on the FCC’s maps. If a governmental entity is interested in challenging either the location information in the Fabric or the broadband availability data submitted by fixed broadband service providers, it must submit those challenges using the unique location IDs reported in the Fabric using the BDC system or the map interface.
If I am a governmental entity that is also a broadband service provider, do I register as a governmental entity or as a service provider?
If you are a facilities-based service provider with at least one end user, regardless of whether you are owned by a Tribal government or municipality, then you should register in the BDC system as a service provider and submit availability data as a service provider.
I am a governmental entity and have entered my information in the BDC system to gain access to the Fabric data for my jurisdiction. What’s next?
CostQuest will send an email to the Certifying Official listed on the Entity Information page with an invitation and instructions to create an account on CostQuest’s site and sign a Fabric licensing agreement. If the Certifying Official is not the appropriate person to create a CostQuest account and sign the agreement, they should forward that email to the appropriate person. For more information, see How Government Entities Can Access the Production Location Fabric. Once this process is complete, the entity may download the Fabric data for the counties in their jurisdiction.
For Tribal Nations that register in the BDC system as a Tribal governmental entity, CostQuest will automatically provide a version of the Tier 2 license agreement that is tailored to Tribal entities. But Tribal entities that also provide broadband services are required to register in the BDC system as a service provider, not as a governmental entity. Because CostQuest is unable to distinguish between Tribal and non-Tribal broadband service providers in the BDC system, the Tribal entity may initially receive a version of the licensing agreement that is not Tribal specific. To help expedite the process, we encourage the Certifying Official to respond to the initial email from CostQuest with a notification that the entity is a Tribal ISP and should therefore receive the Tribal version of the Tier 2 license agreement.
Do consultants and vendors of 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 obtain access to the BDC system and submit data on behalf of their clients. These entities may also access the Fabric subject to the terms and conditions of the applicable license agreement the governmental entity has executed for access to Fabric data. The individuals working for the consultant, vendor, or other third party will need to have their FCC usernames associated with the governmental entity’s FRN in the FCC’s CORES system. Once that is done, the third-party entity would be able to submit data as an authorized user or individual on behalf of the filing 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 for which it works), the entity can separately register in the BDC system as an “other” entity.
Do government filers in the BDC need to have their data certified by a professional engineer?
There is no engineering certification requirement for governmental entities who submit challenges to the Fabric or fixed availability data. Bulk challenges to mobile availability data that are based on speed tests taken 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 (either in their role as an internet service provider or when submitting the verified availability data of an ISP) 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:
- 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
- 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.
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.
Why are home Internet speed test results not being accepted as challenges to fixed broadband availability data?
The focus of the BDC is to measure broadband availability, not network performance. While fixed speed tests can, under the right circumstances, help to indicate a potential quality-of-service issue in an area, the BDC will collect and depict the maximum speeds offered in an area for a particular fixed network technology.
Fixed speed tests cannot form the basis for fixed availability challenge because:
- Many customers do not purchase the highest speed tier service available;
- Fixed speed test results are commonly affected by factors such as the quality or condition of the subscriber’s home network equipment (modem, WiFi router) and connected devices, and in-home propagation characteristics; and
- Other network bottlenecks, like interconnection points or edge servers, beyond the service provider’s control may affect the result of the speed test.
Although fixed speed test results will not be used to challenge a providers fixed broadband service availability, they will be treated as an informal consumer complaint and will be considered as a crowdsource data submission, which may inform the Commission’s need to conduct a verification inquiry of coverage in areas that appear to contain inaccuracies.