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17 April 2020
On March 23, 2020, President Trump signed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. The law requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to collect and disseminate more granular data about the availability of broadband service and to establish processes to ensure data accuracy.
The legislation comes in response to commentary about the FCC's broadband coverage maps and suggestions regarding the Form 477 data collection process used to create those maps. The FCC has taken several steps to address these concerns about the data collection process. The FCC adopted a Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in 2017 to gather information about how to increase the quality and accuracy of broadband data and streamline reporting requirements. In August 2019, the FCC initiated a new process, the Digital Opportunity Data Collection, which requires all fixed broadband providers to submit granular maps of the areas where they have broadband-capable networks and offer service. Most recently, on December 4, 2019, the FCC announced that it would terminate its Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) proceeding after an investigation into major mobile providers' compliance with data collection requirements revealed that some of the maps used for MF-II may have reported differences with the performance experienced by consumers. Controversy surrounding the report increased calls for Congress to act.
On March 3, 2020, the House of Representatives passed the Broadband DATA Act with bipartisan support. The Senate passed the bill by unanimous consent on March 10. The law places several new obligations on the FCC regarding the collection, verification, and reporting of broadband coverage data.
Within 180 days from enactment, the Broadband DATA Act requires the FCC to adopt rules for a new data collection process. The key requirements are:
The Broadband DATA Act requires the FCC to establish new maps in consultation with the Federal Data Geographic Committee, an interagency group that promotes and coordinates the production, use, and publication of geospatial data.
The law includes two mechanisms for verifying data submitted under the new collection process.
The FCC is required to begin its rulemaking in light of the law's six month window. We are continuing to unpack the requirements and implications of this law and the interaction with other FCC mapping efforts.
For further information on this topic please contact Trey Hanbury or Arpan A Sura at Hogan Lovells by telephone (+1 202 637 5600) or email (firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com). The Hogan Lovells website can be accessed at www.hoganlovells.com.
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