Restricting FCC Mapping Data

Coverage Type: 

The Federal Communications Commission rejected dozens of requests from broadband providers to keep confidential the method that the providers use to identify broadband coverage areas. This was prompted by the FCC requiring each provider to explain to the agency how it determined broadband coverage areas in the latest round of gathering data for the FCC broadband maps. Several dozen broadband providers then asked the FCC to keep those responses confidential, with most providers arguing that the method of how customers are counted reveals proprietary data about the broadband providers' networks. The FCC rejected all such arguments and commented that the public needs to know how customers and coverage areas are determined if there is to be any meaningful review and challenge of the FCC mapping data. The FCC is referring to the new mapping process as the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) initiative, and the mapping fabric, meaning the underlying data that supposedly shows the location of every building in the country where somebody could order broadband. All of this matters because the FCC has already started the process of allowing challenges to the mapping fabric. One of the biggest hurdles to the fabric challenge is that the FCC mapping fabric data is not widely available for the public to examine. The FCC mapping data is not being made available to the general public. This makes challenging the maps difficult for rural counties, which mostly don’t have the resources to take the time to understand, let alone challenge the maps. 

Keeping the data proprietary means that the general public can’t participate in this challenge. I can’t think of a single reason why this data isn’t available to everybody. But I can think of two reasons to keep the data restricted. First, this will tamp down on a raft of news articles talking about errors in the mapping fabric. The second reason is to give CostQuest the chance to monetize the process. In my opinion, these are both unacceptable ways to treat data that was created with taxpayer money.

Restricting FCC Mapping Data Pallone Demands Answers From Internet Providers on Reports of Anti-Consumer Practices in Broadband Affordability Programs