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June 7 -- The Federal Communications Commission invites comments to OMB by July 7, 2023 regarding the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) Transparency Data Collection (FCC Form 5651).

On November 15, 2021, the President signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, Public Law 117–58, 135 Stat. 429 (2021), which appropriated $14.2 billion to expand and modify the Emergency Broadband Benefit Program in the form of a new, longer-term broadband affordability program called the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP). The Affordable Connectivity Program provides qualifying low-income households with a monthly discount of up to $30 per month (or up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal Lands) for broadband services, and a one-time $100 discount on a connected device (tablet, laptop, or desktop computer) from the participating provider with a co-pay of more than $10 but less than $50.

The Infrastructure Act also directed the Commission to “issue final rules regarding the annual collection by the Commission of data relating to the price and subscription rates of each internet service offering of a participating provider under the Affordable Connectivity Program . . . to which an eligible household subscribes.” Infrastructure Act, section 60502(c)(1). On November 23, 2022, the Commission adopted a Fourth Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, WC Docket No. 21–450, FCC 22–87 (Fourth Report and Order) establishing the ACP Data Collection to satisfy the statutory collection requirement. The data collection also will allow the Commission to determine the value being provided by the affordable connectivity benefit.
 
The Commission initiates this information collection to gather data from broadband providers participating in the Affordable Connectivity Program related to the price, subscription rates, and characteristics of internet service offerings (i.e., broadband internet plans) to which ACP households subscribe.  Under the ACP Transparency Data Collection, participating providers are required annually to submit the information noted below using the ACP Transparency Data Collection System (ACP Data System), an online portal that allows providers to upload and review data electronically.  The ACP Data System may auto-populate some of the fields, particularly regarding company information, based on information previously filed with the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC), which administers the Affordable Connectivity Program.  

The ACP Data System has three key functions: (1) allows ACP participating providers annually to submit data about all broadband service plans with ACP subscribers; (2) permits participating providers to review and revise their previously submitted data; and (3) enables service providers to view reports of their data, view their historical data for all years, and export their data.
 
We propose to collect the following information through the ACP Data System:
 
Company Information:
-- Company name and business identification information
-- Name and contact information for person submitting the data
-- Name and contact information for officer certifying accuracy of data submitted

Plan characteristics for each broadband plan with ACP subscribers:
-- Plan identification (unique identifier and service plan name)
-- Basic information about the plan (i.e., fixed or mobile, legacy plan, bundle plan, contract requirements, associated equipment required, discounts)
-- Base monthly price
-- Whether the base monthly price is introductory, and if so, the term of the introductory price and the post-introductory price
-- Itemized provider-imposed recurring monthly charges
-- Itemized one-time charges
-- Speed (actual and advertised speeds)
-- Latency
-- Data caps (including type of data cap, amount of cap, and any charges for additional data usage)
-- Bundle components (high-level components, number of mobile voice minutes, number of text messages)

Subscribership rate information by plan (unique identifier) per ZIP Code:
-- Number of ACP subscribers  
-- Number of ACP subscribers receiving enhanced Tribal benefit
-- Number of ACP subscribers receiving other benefits (Lifeline, ACP High-Cost  Benefit)
-- Number of ACP subscribers reaching data cap, average amount by which households have exceeded data cap (overage), average overage amount paid by households exceeding the data cap

Providers also have the option to provide additional information on discounts, all-in prices, bundle component pricing, and the number of ACP subscribers on introductory prices, the number of ACP subscribers who pay set-up fees, and the number of subscribers who pay $0 after all discounts are applied.

The Commission will develop education and training materials to assist providers with complying with the ACP Transparency Data Collection rules and associated processes.  

The Commission will use the information to obtain a more accurate depiction of subscriber service experience, to study which ACP-supported services are received by program participants, to analyze subscriber preferences and trends in the program, to understand the true price of ACP-supported services, to assess the value provided by the Affordable Connectivity Program to households.  The Commission will use the information to evaluate Commission progress toward reducing the digital divide.  Additionally, section 60502(c)(4) of the Infrastructure Act requires the Commission to make data collected available to the public while protecting personally identifiable and proprietary information.

ACP: https://www.fcc.gov/acp
FCC submission to OMB: https://www.reginfo.gov/public/do/PRAViewICR?ref_nbr=202305-3060-016 Click IC List for information collection instrument, View Supporting Statement for technical documentation. Submit comments through this webpage.
FRN: https://www.federalregister.gov/d/2023-12197

For AEA members wishing to submit comments, "A Primer on How to Respond to Calls for Comment on Federal Data Collections" is available at https://www.aeaweb.org/content/file?id=5806

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