FCC to Take Over National Broadband Map - Multichannel

FCC to Take Over National Broadband Map

Commission Won't Collect Pricing Data, But That Remains a Possibility Going Forward
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The FCC Thursday effectively took over the job of maintaining the National Broadband Map, but for now will not add broadband pricing information to the info it collects from broadband providers as part of that effort.

"The changes we make today will ensure that the Commission, other government agencies, and the public will continue to have access to the National Broadband Map," said acting FCC chairwoman Mignon Clyburn in a statement.

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration had been maintaining the map, which is meant to show where broadband is and isn't available, but the grant to the states to supply the infor that went into the map is running out in 2014.

The order, which was approved unanimously, changes the FCC collection to include deployment. The FCC currently collects data mostly on subscriptions and customers, while NTIA has been collecting info on deployment.

But Clyburn made it clear that pricing data collection was still on the table--it was raised in two separate NPRMs that remain open. "While this Report and Order does not collect pricing or more granular subscription data as some. parties have requested, it leaves the door open to do so," she said in the statement.

According to a source familiar with her thinking, commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has made explicitly clear that the issues of pricing data collection, and collecting data on service quality, are still on the table as far as she's concerned.

The source said Rosenworcel believes that if the FCC is going to be serious about broadband adoption, pricing obviously plays a role. The commissioner understands it is complicated and sensitive information, but that the conversation is not over.

That source said the reason pricing was not included was so that the order could be approved expeditiously to insure that there was no gap in collecting data for the National Broadband Map.

The decision not to include pricing info did not sit well with Free Press, which saw politics rather than expedience in the decision not to include pricing data.

"We’re deeply disappointed that politics once again trumped the public interest at the FCC," said Free Press policy director Matt Wood."The Justice Department, the National Broadband Plan, numerous prior FCC proposals, the current acting FCC chairwoman, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and the incoming FCC chairman have all identified the need to collect broadband pricing data. But because powerful broadband companies oppose the collection of any information that would show just how uncompetitive this market is, the FCC is once again refusing to collect the basic data it needs to do its job."