NCTA Elaborates on its Broadband Mapping Alternative

NCTA-The Internet & Television Association has provided the FCC with some more details about its proposal to improve broadband deployment data, which the FCC collects from carriers to determine if advanced telecommunications is being deployed in a reasonable and timely manner.

It also had a bone to pick with Microsoft.

Related: Cable, Telcos Take Different Route to Broadband Maps

NCTA wants to get more granular data by using "shape files", rather than the current census blocks, that illustrate the actual contours of service. Crowdsourcing could help make sure providers aren't overstating coverage areas, NCTA says, as one provider did in the FCC's most recent Section 706 draft report on broadband availability.

Cable operators argue that using addresses, as USTelecom has proposed, is imprecise since some folks don't have traditional addresses: tribal lands, rural roads. Cable companies also are less sanguine about the privacy implications of a database of addresses, according to a cable executive talking not for attribution.

NCTA said that however the FCC adjusts its data collection, it should make clear that "an area with only business customers is considered served if a provider makes best efforts broadband services available to those businesses."

It also said the FCC should continue to distinguish "between served areas that require only routine installations (i.e., no network construction beyond installation of a drop connecting the home to the network) and unserved areas where installations would require extra charges or delays because the network itself must be extended."

That means not restricting the served definition to where a drop to the home is already installed.

In other words, if a cable operator is ready to hook up, a home should not be considered unserved simply because its residents have not chosen to do so.

Earlier this week, Microsoft joined in the chorus of those calling for better data from the FCC on where broadband has been deployed, including suggesting Congress may need to step in to force the FCC to up its game. But NCTA says it was singing off key.

"The Commission should not be distracted by Microsoft’s unsubstantiated attack on the Form 477 [broadband data collection] process," NCTA said. 

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.