Telecom Alert: : Broadband Data Collection Window Opens; GAO NG9-1-1 Study; BDC Petition Ruling; Enhanced Competition Incentive Program [Vol. XIX Issue 28]
Broadband Data Collection Window Opens
The FCC announced that the Broadband Data Collection (“BDC”) filing window opened on June 30, allowing facilities-based service providers to begin filing data pertaining to where they make mass-market internet access service available (Vol. XIX, Issue 26). Providers must submit their data by September 1, 2022. Broadband providers must file broadband and voice availability and subscribership data as of June 30, 2022 (Vol. XIX, Issue 27).
GAO Mandates Study of Federal Efforts to Spur NG9-1-1 Services
On June 30th, the House Appropriations Committee approved a Report (and Amendment) to the Departments of Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill of 2023 that directs the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to conduct a study of the efforts federal agencies are undertaking to promote the deployment of NG9-1-1 services. The report will include (i) a summary of how the NHTSA and NTIA are jointly executing the charge to facilitate coordination and communication between Federal, state, and local entities and provide grants to eligible entities, including states, for 9-1-1 implementation and improvements; and (ii) progress made by federal 9-1-1 call centers to implement NG9-1-1.
Broadband Data Collection Petition Ruling
In response to a petition filed by the Competitive Carriers Association (Vol. XIX, Issue 22), the FCC issued a Declaratory Ruling and Limited Waiver of the engineering certification requirements for the BDC. Specifically, the FCC has clarified that the requirement to submit a certification as to the accuracy of broadband submissions from a “corporate engineering officer,” does not require that the corporate engineering officer be a certified PE, if they have “direct knowledge of, and responsibility for, the carrier’s network design and construction.” In addition, the FCC found that the current lack of certified professional broadband engineers warrants a temporary waiver of the certification requirement. Accordingly, for the duration of the waiver period, a provider may satisfy the certification requirements by using someone with “(i) 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 (ii) 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.”
Enhanced Competition Incentive Program
The FCC will consider a Report and Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at its Open Meeting on July 14 that would establish the Enhanced Competition Incentive Program (“ECIP” or the “Program”) to incentivize beneficial transactions for small carriers and rural interests. The Program would encourage licensees to partition, disaggregate, or lease spectrum to small carriers, Tribal Nations, and an array of entities to provide services in rural areas. Some proposed ECIP benefits include a five-year license term extension for the assignee and assignor in partitioning and disaggregation transactions, as well as a one-year extension of construction benchmarks for all parties.
Casey Lide, Thomas Magee, Tracy Marshall, Kathleen Slattery Thompson, Sean Stokes, and Wesley Wright also contributed to this article.