There appears to be a timing difference in FCC map challenges depending on whether they are bulk or individual

Thank you Telecompetitor for asking the FCC about broadband mapping challenges. A quick centering of the story … the FCC created new maps saying that federal funding will be doled out (partly) based on the maps. People and communities are worried because the maps are not always correct. People can challenge the maps in two ways. Individuals can submit a challenge for their location OR a community can submit a bulk challenge. The bulk challenge requires more technical skills; turns out unserved communities don’t always have those skills on the payroll. Individual challenges are more straightforward but that means convincing a lot of people to make a claim; turns out, residents of unserved areas may lack broadband, device and skills to submit a challenge. Never mind time required for either type of challenge.

Now the update from Telecompetitor

Over the past few months, the FCC and NTIA have recommended filing dates for bulk challenges to the National Broadband Map, which is updated twice yearly. But stakeholders hadn’t seen similar guidance from either agency about individual challenges.

Telecompetitor asked the FCC about this and, based on what a spokesperson told us, individual challenges could be addressed more quickly than bulk challenges – at least when it comes to availability challenges. Details about that later in this post. First, some definitions.

There are some suggested timelines…

Although any type of challenge can be filed at any time, the NTIA and FCC have advised stakeholders of dates by which bulk challenges should be filed in order for them to be adjudicated in time to impact the next version of the map, which the FCC updates twice yearly.

It sounds like the individual challenges can take up to 120 days to be resolved or processed as unserved but that may be quicker than bulk challenges…

Regarding the timing of availability challenges from individuals, the spokesperson noted that after a preliminary review by commission staff, fixed availability challenges are sent to providers, usually within only a few days. Providers then have 60 days to either concede the challenge (in which case the provider’s availability at challenged locations will be removed from the map) or to provide evidence to dispute the challenge.

“If the provider disputes the challenge, it then has 60 days to work with the challenger to resolve the dispute,” the spokesperson said. “We expect that most challenges will be resolved during these initial phases, but if not, the FCC will review the evidence to make a determination of whether the map will continue to show that the provider has availability at the challenged location.”

The results of availability challenges are reflected on “a rolling basis as they are resolved,” the spokesperson said.

Although the spokesperson did not answer our question asking the filing date associated with the most recent availability challenges that had been adjudicated, the timeline outlined above suggests that an individual would have had to make the challenge at least 60 days and possibly more than 120 days in advance of the next broadband map update expected in May or June in order for the resolution of the challenge to be reflected on that version of the map.

Potentially, that’s less time than NTIA expected the FCC to take for bulk challenges. Late last year, NTIA advised stakeholders to file bulk challenges by January 13 in order to have them adjudicated in time to be reflected on the version of the map that is expected in May or June.

 

This entry was posted in FCC, Policy and tagged , , by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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