Today’s Regulatory Mix: 2022 Urban Rate Survey, Existing High-Cost Disbursement Tool Being Retired July 17, Senator Concerned With NTIA Map
2022 Urban Rate Survey
On July 12, 2021, the FCC released a notice that it was sending the 2022 urban rate survey to random fixed services providers. Using December 2020 FCC Form 477 data, the survey is targeting up to 500 urban Census tracts for voice services voice providers and up to 2,000 urban Census tracts for broadband services. Providers serving more than one urban Census tract may receive multiple surveys. It is an online survey only accessible to the selected providers. Responses are due August 20, 2021.
Existing High-Cost Disbursement Tool Being Retired July 17
USAC will be retiring the existing High-Cost disbursement search tool on July 17. A new, more user-friendly platform will take its place. The new tool contains the same underlying data, but in a format more consistent with the open data tools across the other USF programs. For example, the new tool:
- No longer includes a search page and instead contains a menu of drop-down filters along the right-hand side of the screen
- Displays search results in a bar chart, with the underlying data appearing beneath the bar chart
- Allows data columns to be sorted
- Places the “Export” button above the search menus
Senator Concerned With NTIA Map
In June, the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) released a new, interactive publicly available digital map that displays key indicators of broadband needs across the country. Last week, U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, sent a letter to the NTIA asking the agency to reassess its data collection processes and sources, and to use only the most up-to-date and accurate data as it updates its map. Senator Wicker’s letter expresses concern that the map was misleading, overstating coverage in some areas and understating it in others. Without accurate maps, the letter explains, policymakers cannot identify where broadband is available and where it is not, and at what speeds.
“Over the past year, Congress has provided NTIA with over $1.5 billion to expand broadband access to minority communities, Tribal lands, and unserved areas. But NTIA’s lack of accurate data threatens the effectiveness of these programs, as well as other broadband programs Congress is currently contemplating as part of an infrastructure bill. This is not the first time NTIA has faced this threat. The same problem plagued NTIA’s Broadband Technology Opportunities Program, which faced criticism for the way it provided grants – often subsidizing overbuilds of existing network infrastructure. Indeed, a Government Accountability Office report examining that program found that NTIA ‘lack[ed] detailed data on the availability of broadband service throughout the country, making it difficult to determine whether a proposed service area is unserved or underserved.’ We cannot afford to make this same mistake again.”
The Regulatory Mix, Inteserra’s blog of telecom related regulatory activities, is a snapshot of PUC, FCC, legislative, and occasionally court issues that our regulatory monitoring team uncovers each day. Depending on their significance, some items may be the subject of an Inteserra Briefing.