Major Changes to Mandatory FCC Form 477 Filing
The FCC is expected to imminently release a major revision to its Form 477 broadband and telephone competition reporting form that must be filed by March 2, 2009, by all facilities-based providers of broadband connections to end-user locations (such as cable modem providers); all local exchange carriers (ILECs and CLECs, including resellers); most commercial mobile radio service (CMRS) providers; and, for the first time, interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers. There are no exceptions based upon the size of the service provider.
The new form will be a significant new burden for broadband providers because it requires providers to report their number of connections in each census tract, rather than simply list each ZIP code where they provide service.
The form also increases the number of broadband upload- and download-speed tier categories that must be reported. The new tiers will be 200-767 kbps; 768 kbps-1.49 mbps; 1.5-2.99 mbps; 3.0-5.99 mbps; 6.0-9.99 mbps; 10.0-24.99 mbps; 25.0-99.99 mbps; and 100+ mbps.
Cable operators and other interconnected VoIP providers will also be required for the first time to report data on their telephone services, including a list of five-digit ZIP codes in which they have at least one subscriber. Once it is released, the new form and instructions will be available here.
The new form had been delayed subject to approval from the Office of Management and Budget, but OMB conditionally approved the new requirements on January 30. On February 3, a group of trade associations petitioned the FCC for a 120-day extension for all small service providers, but we have heard that the FCC is presently disinclined to grant any extensions. (The FCC is likely concerned that Congress may soon require it to complete a broadband availability study on short notice as part of the economic stimulus legislation.)
The FCC has indicated that it would allow a provider upon a showing of “significant hardship” to report a list of service addresses rather than census tract information, but a separate filing would be required to make this request.
Please let your DWT attorney know if you have any questions or would like assistance in obtaining census tract information, preparing these filings, supporting the request for an extension of time, or seeking a hardship exemption from providing census tract information.