FCC pushes broadband map forward, but time is running short

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced a second broadband data collection filing window for its national broadband map. (Sometimes the FCC refers to the map as a “location fabric.”)

On January 3, 2023, facilities-based broadband service providers as well as state, local and Tribal governments, may again begin to file in the Broadband Data Collection system to indicate where they provide broadband internet access service.

All data for the second iteration of the map must be submitted by March 1, 2023.  

The new data will then be overlaid on the map by CostQuest, the vendor that is managing the mapping process.


The FCC’s first broadband data collection window occurred from June 30 to September 1, and that was followed by a challenge process, enabling operators to request corrections to the map.

On November 18, the FCC released the first version of its new map. The map’s debut opened the door for all interested parties to challenge, not just the data on the map, but also the broadband coverage data provided by operators. 

The latest version of the map includes improvements made by the FCC and CostQuest, including corrections to addresses, unit counts, building types, land use and geographic coordinates.

Now, the FCC is opening its second data collection period until March 1, 2023, which will be followed by a second version of the map.

Potential stumbling blocks

The mapping process is following a tight time-line because the NTIA wants to announce — on June 30, 2023 — BEAD grant allocations to eligible states and territories based on data in the National Broadband Map.

But there are some potential hangups.

According to a Congressional Research Service report issued December 27, some state broadband offices have contracts with data vendors related to state broadband maps that may restrict data sharing with other entities.

“Thus, states may not end up challenging the National Broadband Map — or if they do challenge, they may violate their contract and face legal jeopardy,” stated the report. “Some state third-party data vendors may also be concerned that the FCC’s third-party vendor that developed the underlying data structure of the National Broadband Map could use data submitted from states in the challenge process for its own commercial use.”

Another hangup may be incorporating a large amount of corrected data in a timely manner. For instance, New York has submitted more than 31,000 missing unserved or underserved address locations to the FCC, demonstrating the potential magnitude of the data collection effort.

Other states may lack the resources and expertise to file challenges within the three-month window.

Ultimately, Congress could mandate an extension of the mapping challenge process and a delay in BEAD allocations.