The FCC has issued a Public Notice seeking comments on and corrections to the National Broadband Map. The map is used to determine how Connect America Fund subsidies are allocated to geographic areas deemed unserved by existing broadband providers. The Public Notice links to a list of potentially unserved census blocks, and asks providers to review blocks in its territories for accuracy to determine whether and where the map either overstates or understates coverage.

Broadband providers should carefully review data correlated to areas in and around their service areas, as well as any proposed modifications suggested by other providers. Where the map incorrectly lists a Census block in a provider’s area as unserved, it could trigger payment of unwarranted Connect America Fund subsidies to price cap telecommunications carriers such as CenturyLink, AT&T, Frontier and Verizon. Note that in order to challenge a census blocks designation, the Commission will require the submission of “specific, actionable information” that the area is indeed already served and/or unserved by an incumbent broadband provider.

Conversely, price cap carriers will have the opportunity to assert in their own comments to be filed on January 4, 2013 that a particular area currently deemed served is in fact unserved. We suggest that broadband providers carefully review such claims to ensure that census blocks in their service areas are not improperly changed to unserved status in the database, thus triggering undeserving subsidies.

Comments are due January 4, 2013 and Reply Comments are due January 22, 2013.