Jan 13 -- The Federal Communications Commission (Commission or FCC) seeks comments on the statutory requirement to revise Affordable Connectivity Program (or ACP) Transparency Data Collection rules, the value of subscriber-level data and methods of obtaining and encouraging subscriber consent, and whether the Commission should also collect additional data. Comments are due on or before February 13, 2023 and reply comments are due on or before February 27, 2023.
In the Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (FNPRM), the Commission seeks additional comments on: (1) the statutory requirement to revise ACP Transparency Data Collection rules adopted in the Fourth Report and Order (Order); (2) the value of subscriber-level data and methods of obtaining and encouraging subscriber consent; and (3) whether the Commission should also collect additional data, such as more granular aggregated data, data related to enrollment processes, the digital divide, price, or plan availability or performance.
Question Topic Headings:
Data Collection Revisions
Other Levels of Aggregation
Enrollment Process Data
Digital Divide Performance Metrics
Introductory Pricing and Set-up Fees
Quality of Service Metrics
Additional Plan Metrics
In the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (Infrastructure Act), Congress established the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), which is designed to promote access to broadband internet access services by households that meet specified eligibility criteria by providing funding for participating providers to offer certain services and connected devices to these households at discounted prices. The Affordable Connectivity Program provides funds for an affordable connectivity benefit consisting of a $30.00 per month discount on the price of broadband internet access services that participating providers supply to eligible households in most parts of the country and a $75.00 per month discount on such prices in Tribal areas. The Commission established rules governing the affordable connectivity benefit and related matters in the ACP Report and Order.
Furthermore, the Infrastructure Act directs the Commission to establish an annual mandatory collection of data relating to the price and subscription rates of each internet service offering of ACP participating providers. The Act also requires the Commission to “revise the rules to verify the accuracy of data submitted pursuant to the rules” no later than 180 days after the rules are promulgated.
By way of background, in the ACP Data Collection Notice, the Bureau sought comment on the timing requirement, specifically asking how to interpret section 60502(c)(2)'s revision mandate. In response, the Commission only received one comment from ACA Connects, suggesting that its permitted to revise rules in compliance with 60502(c)(2) before collecting any data. In the FNPRM, the Commission interprets the Infrastructure Act as not requiring it to collect data prior to revising its rules.
The FNPRM seeks comment on the Infrastructure Act's rule revision requirement. Specifically, the Commission seeks information on how to improve the data collection rules, including how to track and verify the accuracy of data collected, to protect against inaccuracies, and to reduce burdens. Moreover, the FNPRM seeks comment on whether the timing of this collection, as proposed, satisfies the requirements of the Infrastructure Act to “revise the accuracy” of its rules no later than 180 days after establishing final rules.
The Commission also seeks comments on the value of subscriber-level data and how, if the Commission decides to collect such information, obtain consent. Specifically, the Commission seeks comments on the value and burdens associated with collecting subscriber level information, and the methods and merit of collecting consent from new and existing ACP subscribers, including whether consent should be mandatory or optional.
Additionally, the Commission seeks comment on whether to collect information about the Affordable Connectivity Program enrollment process as part of this collection, specifically whether the Commission authorizes to collect such information, and how to go about collecting it.
The Commission seeks comments on whether to collect information to help measure progress towards accomplishing the Affordable Connectivity Program goals of reducing the digital divide and ensuring effective administration of the program. Specifically, the Commission asks whether its authorized to collect such information, collect the information as part of this collection, and what methods to use to collect it.
The Commission also seeks comments on whether to make the collection of the total number of subscribers who are paying introductory rates or who pay set-up fees in a data-month mandatory. In the Order the Commission permits, but does not require providers to submit this information. The Commission specifically ask whether to make these optional submissions mandatory, and whether it is authorized to collect such information.
Furthermore, the Commission seeks comments on whether to make the collection of all-in price, net-rate charged, and the number of subscribers for whom net-rate charged is $0 mandatory. In the Order the Commission permits, but does not require providers to submit information on the all-in price, the net-rate charged, and the number of subscribers whose net-rate charges is $0 by ZIP-code and plan identifier. The Commission specifically asks whether to make this collection mandatory, and what the benefits and burdens are with such an approach.
The Commission also seeks comments on whether to collect additional quality of service metrics as part of this collection, including connection reliability and outages. The Commission specifically seeks comments on the benefits and burdens associated with collecting additional quality of service metrics, and ask whether to collect such information at the subscriber or aggregate level.
The Commission finally, seeks comments on whether to make mandatory the collection of latency, one-time fees, introductory rates, typical speed, and typical latency. In the Order, providers are not required to submit these fields for legacy service plans. The Commission specifically seeks comments on what the benefits and burdens of submitting this information for all plans would be, in addition to whether to collect this information at the subscriber or aggregate level.
In executing its obligations under the Infrastructure Act, the Commission intends to establish rules and requirements that implement the relevant provisions of the ACP efficiently, with minimal burden on eligible households and participating providers. These actions are consistent with the Commission's ongoing efforts to bridge the digital divide by ensuring that low-income households have access to affordable, high-quality broadband internet access service.
Affordable Connectivity Program: https://www.fcc.gov/acp