Daily Rules, Proposed Rules, and Notices of the Federal Government
This is a summary of the Commission's Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in WC Docket No. 07-38, adopted on March 19, 2008, and released on June 12, 2008. The complete text of this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is available for public inspection Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 8 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. in the Commission's Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau, Reference Information Center, Room CY-A257, 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554. The complete text is available also on the Commission's Internet site at
1. In this Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Further Notice), the Commission seeks comment on modifications to the FCC Form 477 data collection to collect additional data on broadband service subscriptions. These proposed changes will enable the Commission to continue to develop and maintain appropriate broadband policies, in particular to carry out its obligation under section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to “determine whether advanced telecommunications capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion.”
2. In particular, the Commission seeks comment on developing a nationwide broadband availability mapping program. The Commission seeks comment on ways in which it might effectively capture information about actual, delivered speeds of broadband Internet access services, and about prices of broadband services. In addition, the Commission seeks comment on whether to require Form 477 filers to report the number of voice telephone service connections at the ZIP Code or Census Tract level. Finally, the Commission seeks comment on methodologies for consumer broadband surveys, and on methods for preserving confidentiality when sharing the information collected on Form 477.
3. Currently, local exchange carriers that file Form 477 are required to report the total number of voice-grade equivalent lines and wireless channels provided to end users. This information is provided on a state-by-state basis. In this Further Notice, the Commission seeks comment on whether to require Form 477 filers to report the number of voice telephone service connections, and the percentage of these that are residential, at the 5-digit ZIP Code or Census Tract level. This increased granularity of data would enable the Commission to better assess adoption of particular technologies and competition using particular technologies in localized areas. The Commission seeks comment on the benefits and burdens associated with this additional reporting requirement.
4. In the Data Gathering Notice, the Commission sought comment on methods to better use the data collected by Form 477. The Commission acknowledged the success of the ConnectKentucky initiative and its interactive mapping program. The Commission notes that the ConnectKentucky program, along with other efforts at the state level, has facilitated identification of areas without broadband service, and that this identification has resulted in public and private resources being focused to provide service to unserved areas. In order to provide an information resource that will facilitate similar focus nationwide, the Commission seeks comment on the adoption of a national broadband mapping program with the objective of creating a highly detailed map of broadband availability nationwide. The Commission seeks comment on ways such a program can provide useful information to other broadband initiatives undertaken by federal and state agencies and public-private partnerships, such as ConnectKentucky. The Commission seeks comment on whether and to what extent it might work with the
5. The Commission tentatively concludes that the Commission should collect information that providers use to respond to prospective customers to determine on an address-by-address basis whether service is available. The Commission seeks comment on this conclusion, and on what standardized formats could be used to collect the information. The Commission seeks comment on whether and how a nationwide broadband mapping program can incorporate the data collected on Form 477, including information on broadband service subscriptions by Census Tract and by speed tier. The Commission also seeks comment on whether there are other sources of data it should collect to improve the output of the broadband service availability mapping program. The Commission seeks comment on how to maintain the confidentiality of broadband service information while still providing a rich resource for use by other federal agencies, states, localities, and public-private partnerships in focusing resources on expanding broadband availability in a manner, similar to the focusing of resources enabled by the ConnectKentucky project. The Commission will apply an expedited comment cycle on this issue, and it intends to issue a responsive Order within 4 months.
6. In the Data Gathering Notice the Commission sought comment on whether to require reporting of actual broadband connection speeds experienced by customers rather than the theoretical maximum that a given network can support or the particular service configuration allows. The record indicates that factors beyond the control of service providers may compromise the ability of service providers to report actual speeds experienced by consumers. Also, comments in the record point to the existence of other methods of collecting this information. In this Further Notice, the Commission seeks comment on how it might require service providers to report this information, and any alternative means, in addition to or other than requiring such service provider reporting, for effectively capturing meaningful information about actual speeds of Internet access services experienced by consumers.
7. In the Data Gathering Notice, the Commission sought comment on whether and how it could collect price information for broadband services. Among other questions, the Commission asked how to compare price information in introductory offers and bundled services. In the record in this proceeding, commenters note that such price information is helpful in understanding broadband uptake, particularly when viewed across regions and in comparison to demographic information. Comments from state entities also emphasized the value of gathering price information, particularly for low-cost broadband services, to assist the state entities with ensuring availability of broadband service and monitoring competition. Commenters note, however, that price information is complex due to promotions, bundling discounts, contract terms, multi-part tariffs, and other contextual information, and that price fluctuations can be frequent and have the potential to render data gathering meaningless or even misleading. Some commenters suggest collecting pricing information on a price-per-bit basis to simplify reporting and comparison. Others question the need for or utility of collecting this information on Form 477 at all and note that other entities are already gathering pricing information on broadband services. One commenter suggests that any meaningful standards or comparisons need to somehow account for non-speed differences in service features. Another states that the lack of low-cost, standalone broadband service itself may be indicative of a lack of competition.
8. The Commission seeks to supplement and enrich the record on broadband price information. The Commission seeks comment on requiring providers to report, for each state or each Census Tract in which they offer service, the monthly price the provider charges for standalone broadband service in each of the speed tiers used for Form 477 reporting, not including any temporary promotional price discounts or any discounts for bundled services. If a provider offers multiple broadband services with different service characteristics within a speed tier (
9. In the Further Notice above, the Commission seeks comment on a national broadband availability mapping program, and on how it can provide information gathered by that program to other broadband initiatives undertaken by federal and state agencies and by public-private partnerships. Comments in the record indicate concern for the confidentiality of reported data. The Commission seeks comment on ways in which it can preserve confidentiality when sharing the information collected on Form 477, the voluntary registry, and other sources with agencies such as the Department of Agriculture's Rural Utilities Service and with public-private partnerships such as ConnectKentucky and similar ventures, for example by sharing the data in a less granular or aggregated form than the level at which it is collected.
10. The Commission seeks comment on whether it should conduct and publish periodic surveys of broadband customers to obtain information about the price, technology, and speed of their connections and to obtain information about the applications and services that they use over the connections. The Commission asks commenters to provide information on the appropriate methodology for conducting such surveys.
11. This proceeding shall be treated as a “permit-but-disclose” proceeding in accordance with the Commission's
12. Pursuant to sections 1.415 and 1.419 of the Commission's rules, 47 CFR 1.415, 1.419, interested parties may file comments and reply comments on or before the dates indicated on the first page of this document. All filings related to this Notice of Proposed Rulemaking should refer to WC Docket No. 07-38. Comments may be filed using: (1) The Commission's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS), (2) the Federal Government's rulemaking Portal, or (3) by filing paper copies.
○ For ECFS filers, if multiple dockets or rulemaking numbers appear in the caption of this proceeding, filers must transmit one electronic copy of the comments for each docket or rulemaking number referenced in the caption. In completing the transmittal screen, filers should include their full name, U.S. Postal Service mailing address, and the applicable docket or rulemaking number. Parties may also submit an electronic comment by Internet e-mail. To get filing instructions, filers should send an e-mail to
Filings can be sent by hand or messenger delivery, by commercial overnight courier, or by first-class or overnight U.S. Postal Service mail (although the Commission continues to experience delays in receiving U.S. Postal Service mail). All filings must be addressed to the Commission's Secretary, Office of the Secretary, Federal Communications Commission.
○ The Commission's contractor will receive hand-delivered or messenger-delivered paper filings for the Commission's Secretary at 236 Massachusetts Avenue, NE., Suite 110, Washington, DC 20002. The filing hours at this location are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. All hand deliveries must be held together with rubber bands or fasteners. Any envelopes must be disposed of before entering the building.
○ Commercial overnight mail (other than U.S. Postal Service Express Mail and Priority Mail) must be sent to 9300 East Hampton Drive, Capitol Heights, MD 20743.
○ U.S. Postal Service first-class, Express, and Priority mail must be addressed to 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554.
13. Comments and reply comments and any other filed documents in this matter may be obtained from Best Copy and Printing, Inc., in person at 445 12th Street, SW., Room CY-B402, Washington, DC 20554, via telephone at (202) 488-5300, via facsimile at (202) 488-5563, or via e-mail at
14. To request materials in accessible formats for people with disabilities (braille, large print, electronic files, audio format), send an e-mail to
15. Comments and reply comments must include a short and concise summary of the substantive arguments raised in the pleading. Comments and reply comments also must comply with section 1.49 and all other applicable sections of the Commission's rules. All parties are encouraged to utilize a table of contents, and to include the name of the filing party and the date of the filing on each page of their submission. The Commission also strongly encourages that parties track the organization set forth in this Further Notice in order to facilitate its internal review process.
16. Commenters who file information that they believe should be withheld from public inspection may request confidential treatment pursuant to Section 0.459 of the Commission's rules. Commenters should file both their original comments for which they request confidentiality and redacted comments, along with their request for confidential treatment. Commenters should not file proprietary information electronically. Even if the Commission grants confidential treatment, information that does not fall within a specific exemption pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) must be publicly disclosed pursuant to an appropriate request.
17. The Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking contains proposed new and modified information collection requirements. The Commission, as part of its continuing effort to reduce paperwork burdens, invites the general public and the Office of Management and Budget to comment on the information collection requirements contained in this document, as required by the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, Public Law 104-13. A copy of any Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) comments on the information collection(s) contained herein should be submitted to the Federal Communications Commission, Room 1-C804, 445 12th Street, SW., Washington, DC 20554, or via the Internet to
18. In addition, pursuant to the Small Business Paperwork Relief Act of 2002, Public Law 107-198, see 44 U.S.C. 3506(c)(4), the Commission seeks specific comment on how it might “further reduce the information collection burden for small business concerns with fewer than 25 employees.”
19. The legal basis for any action that may be taken pursuant to the FNPRM is contained in sections 1 through 5, 10, 11, 201 through 205, 215, 218 through 220, 251 through 271, 303(r), 332, 403, 502, and 503 of the Communications Act of 1934, as amended, 47 U.S.C. 151 through 155, 160, 161, 201 through 205, 215, 218 through 220, 251 through 271, 303(r), 332, 403, 502, and 503, and section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996, 47 U.S.C. 157 nt.
20. As required by the Regulatory Flexibility Act of 1980, as amended (RFA), the Commission has prepared the present Initial Regulatory Flexibility Analysis (IRFA) of the possible significant economic impact on small entities that might result from today's Further Notice. Written public comments are requested on this IRFA. Comments must be identified as responses to the IRFA and must be filed by the deadlines for comments on the Further Notice provided above. The Commission will send a copy of the Further Notice, including this IRFA, to the Chief Counsel for Advocacy of the Small Business Administration. In addition, the Further Notice and IRFA (or summaries thereof) will be published in the
21. In the Further Notice, In the Further Notice, the Commission considers how to best implement certain reporting requirements and whether there are additional reporting requirements it should adopt to improve the ability of the Commission to understand the extent of deployment of broadband and related services. Specifically, the Commission seeks comment on whether to require local exchanges carriers and interconnected VoIP service providers to report the number of voice telephone service connections, and the percentage of these that are residential, at the 5-digit ZIP Code or Census Tract level. The Commission seeks comment on whether to create a broadband mapping program, and on information that can be collected and included in the program. The Commission also seeks comment on whether it should require reporting of information on price of broadband services, and information on actual, delivered broadband speeds, and the Commission seeks comment on standards and methodologies appropriate for the collection of this data. Finally, the Commission seeks general comments on ways to maintain the privacy of the currently reported data as well as the new data collections proposed in the Further Notice, and on appropriate methodologies for the creation of broadband consumer surveys to acquire additional information. For each of these issues, the Commission also seeks comment on the burdens, including those placed on small carriers, associated with corresponding Commission rules related to each issue and whether there are alternative rules that might lessen any burden.
22. The RFA directs agencies to provide a description of, and, where feasible, an estimate of, the number of small entities that may be affected by the rules adopted herein. The RFA generally defines the term “small entity” as having the same meaning as the terms “small business,” “small organization,” and “small governmental jurisdiction.” In addition, the term “small business” has the same meaning as the term “small business concern” under the Small Business Act. A “small business concern” is one which: (1) Is independently owned and operated; (2) is not dominant in its field of operation; and (3) satisfies any additional criteria established by the Small Business Administration (SBA).
25. The Commission has included small incumbent local exchange carriers (LECs) in this present RFA analysis. As noted above, a “small business” under the RFA is one that, inter alia, meets the pertinent small business size standard (
33. Below, for those services subject to auctions, the Commission notes that, as a general matter, the number of winning bidders that qualify as small businesses at the close of an auction does not necessarily represent the number of small businesses currently in service. Also, the Commission does not generally track subsequent business size unless, in the context of assignments or transfers, unjust enrichment issues are implicated.
51. The Commission has defined small MDS (now BRS) and LMDS entities in the context of Commission license auctions. In the 1996 MDS auction, the Commission defined a small business as an entity that had annual average gross revenues of less than $40 million in the previous three calendar years. This definition of a small entity in the context of MDS auctions has been approved by the SBA. In the MDS auction, 67 bidders won 493 licenses. Of the 67 auction winners, 61 claimed status as a small business. At this time, the Commission estimates that of the 61 small business MDS auction winners, 48 remain small business licensees. In addition to the 48 small businesses that hold BTA authorizations, there are approximately 392 incumbent MDS licensees that have gross revenues that are not more than $40 million and are thus considered small entities. MDS licensees and wireless cable operators that did not receive their licenses as a result of the MDS auction fall under the SBA small business size standard for Cable and Other Program Distribution. Information available to the Commission indicates that there are approximately 850 of these licensees and operators that do not generate revenue in excess of $13.5 million annually. Therefore, the Commission estimates that there are approximately 850 small entity MDS (or BRS) providers, as defined by the SBA and the Commission's auction rules.
52. Educational institutions are included in this analysis as small entities; however, the Commission has not created a specific small business size standard for ITFS (now EBS). The Commission estimates that there are currently 2,032 ITFS (or EBS) licensees, and all but 100 of the licenses are held by educational institutions. Thus, the Commission estimates that at least 1,932 ITFS licensees are small entities.
53. In the 1998 and 1999 LMDS auctions, the Commission defined a small business as an entity that has annual average gross revenues of less than $40 million in the previous three calendar years. Moreover, the Commission added an additional classification for a “very small business,” which was defined as an entity that had annual average gross revenues of less than $15 million in the previous three calendar years. These definitions of “small business” and “very small business” in the context of the LMDS auctions have been approved by the SBA. In the first LMDS auction, 104 bidders won 864 licenses. Of the 104 auction winners, 93 claimed status as small or very small businesses. In the LMDS re-auction, 40 bidders won 161 licenses. Based on this information, the Commission believes that the number of small LMDS licenses will include the 93 winning bidders in the first auction and the 40 winning bidders in the re-auction, for a total of 133 small entity LMDS providers as defined by the SBA and the Commission's auction rules.
58. The first category of Satellite Telecommunications “comprises establishments primarily engaged in providing point-to-point telecommunications services to other establishments in the telecommunications and broadcasting industries by forwarding and receiving communications signals via a system of satellites or reselling satellite telecommunications.” For this category, Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there were a total of 371 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 307 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million, and 26 firms had receipts of $10 million to $24,999,999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of Satellite Telecommunications firms are small entities that might be affected by its action.
59. The second category of Other Telecommunications “comprises establishments primarily engaged in (1) providing specialized telecommunications applications, such as satellite tracking, communications telemetry, and radar station operations; or (2) providing satellite terminal stations and associated facilities operationally connected with one or more terrestrial communications systems and capable of transmitting telecommunications to or receiving telecommunications from satellite systems.” For this category, Census Bureau data for 2002 show that there were a total of 332 firms that operated for the entire year. Of this total, 303 firms had annual receipts of under $10 million and 15 firms had annual receipts of $10 million to $24,999,999. Consequently, the Commission estimates that the majority of Other Telecommunications firms are small entities that might be affected by its action.
60. In 2007, the SBA recognized new census categories for small cable entities. However, there is no census data yet in existence that may be used to calculate the number of small entities that fit these definitions. Therefore, the Commission will use prior definitions of these types of entities in order to estimate numbers of potentially-affected small business entities. In addition to the estimates provided above, the Commission considers certain additional entities that may be affected by the data collection from broadband service providers. Because section 706 requires it to monitor the deployment of broadband regardless of technology or transmission media employed, the Commission anticipates that some broadband service providers will not provide telephone service. Accordingly, the Commission describes below other types of firms that may provide broadband services, including cable companies, MDS providers, and utilities, among others.