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FCC Releases Broadband Survey Form

Cable operators, other ISPs and phone
companies need to get their broadband pricing paperwork in order.

FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau and Wireless Telecommunications Bureau have
released an order outlining the survey it will be conducting with select
service providers (via an online reporting form) as soon as OMB signs off on
the paperwork collection.

bureaus have decided not to combine fixed and mobile broadband service in the
price survey related to its dispensation of broadband subsidies from the
Universal Service Fund as it migrates from traditional phone service to
broadband delivery of voice and data.

carriers eligible for funds to get broadband to high-cost (hard-to reach,
usually rural) areas are expected to provide that service at comparable rates
and terms to those offered in urban areas and the order says that that there
will be a stand-alone survey for fixed broadband that will including info on
speeds and usage-based pricing.

information collected in this survey will be used to establish a rate floor
that eligible telecommunications carriers (ETCs) receiving high-cost loop
support (HCLS) or frozen high-cost support must meet to receive their full
support amounts and to help ensure that universal service support recipients
offering fixed voice and broadband services do so at reasonably comparable
rates to those in urban areas," the bureaus said in the joint item.

bureaus also said that since the FCC won't have come up with a benchmark rate
by the July 1, 2013 deadline for ETC fund recipients to
file their annual reports, they won't have to certify compliance with that
benchmark until the 2014 report.

bureaus said they would not try to come up with a blended rate for mobile and
fixed because "the differences in rate plans and other attributes of fixed
and mobile services would make it inordinately difficult to create a unified

commission plans to survey a "statistically valid sample" of all
fixed terrestrial providers, which serve census tracts in metropolitan areas.

ISPs (fixed broadband offerings), the survey will seek info on residential
non-discounted rates for all standalone services -- ISP's will not have to
break out prices from bundled offerings. The FCC had initially proposed
operators place their service in one of four service tiers, but agreed with
some of the commenters that using the service tier categories (72 combinations
of upload and download speeds) the FCC currently uses for its form 477broadband report
"might not accommodate the variety of plans currently offered" and
would have made it harder to fill out the survey.

will have to report on any capacity allowance-based pricing and what actions
are taken when capacity is exceeded, including overage charges, traffic
blocking or limiting. ISPs will have the option of also reporting any roll over
policies that allow for unused capacity to be used in the following month.

providers who receive a survey are expected to complete it within 30 days (the
FCC will contact those who do not). Failure to comply with the order could lead
to enforcement actions including fines.

FCC can't send out the survey until the Office of Management and Budget has
approved the new paperwork collection requirement.