The Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program launched earlier this year and has enrolled over 12 million subscribers to date. As required by Congress, the Commission has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking seeking comment on the program data to be collected, the mechanism for collection, and format for data publication.
Comments will be due by July 25 and reply comments are due August 8.
ACP DATA COLLECTION AND REPORTING
The Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Notice) seeks comment on the types of price and subscription rate data the Commission should collect as part of the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP) transparency annual data collection.
- Price and Subscription Rate Information: The Notice seeks comment on what pricing characteristics should be collected; which pricing components should be included and how these components can be distinguished by the Commission; and whether other indicators of price should be collected, such as the cost of additional data purchased by households that exceed their monthly cap, or whether a plan is designated for low-income households.
- Subscription Rates: The Commission proposes to collect, as “subscription rate” data, the number of ACP households that subscribe to each unique service offering, as distinguished by price and service characteristics.
- Plan Characteristics: The Notice seeks comment on whether the Commission should collect information on advertised or maximum upload and download speeds, or other speed measurements; information on service plan data caps; information on associated equipment for bundled service plans, information concerning the characteristics of the bundle; or any other plan characteristic information.
- Broadband Consumer Labels: The Notice seeks comment on whether the Commission is limited to use of price information contained in the broadband labels when collecting data relating to price.
- Performance Metrics: The Commission proposes to use information in the ACP transparency data collection to evaluate program performance in achieving the goals set in the ACP Order.
Data Collection Structure
The Commission is also seeking comment on the process and method for collection of ACP transparency data.
- Data Collection Systems: The Commission seeks comment on its proposed use of the National Lifeline Accountability Database or other Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) systems to collect subscriber-level data, and whether a different collection mechanism should be used if the Commission were to collect data at an aggregated level rather than at the subscriber level. The Notice further seeks comment on how the level of aggregation impacts the collection mechanism that should be employed.
- Data Filers: The Notice seeks comment on the Commission’s proposal to require every provider participating in the ACP to provide such data, regardless of the number of enrolled households.
- Data Updates: The Notice seeks comment on the appropriate mechanism and timeline for updating ACP transparency data, including how data from providers about the price and subscription rate of existing ACP households should be backfilled following adoption of the final rules and whether providers should be required to regularly update such information.
Data Collection Approaches
- Collection Approaches and Impact: The Notice seeks comment on the Commission’s proposal to collect information at the subscriber level, but alternatively invites comment on the collection of more aggregated data or adopting a hybrid approach. The Commission requests comment on the relative impact and costs for collection and any related privacy concerns.
- Public Availability of Data: The Notice requests comment generally on what data should be made public, how subscriber privacy and provider interests can be protected, the method and timing of publication, and how to balance the benefits and burdens associated with publication.
- Scope of Information Made Public: The Commission proposes publicly releasing only aggregated data, and asks how to define “personally identifiable information” for purposes of making data publicly available and how it should minimize the risk that such information will be disclosed when making data available to the public.
- Forfeiture Penalties: The Commission recommends it treat failure to submit the necessary data, respond to USAC or the Commission’s requests for data, or provide complete and accurate data by the established deadline as program rule violations that may result in forfeiture penalties proportionate to the level of data required to be collected. However, the Commission also invites comments on alternative methods of calculating the forfeiture amount.
- Tracking Noncompliance: The Commission proposes instructing USAC to provide the Enforcement Bureau with a list of providers that fail to submit ACP transparency data collection information by the applicable deadline.
- Involuntary Removal: The Notice seeks comment on whether a failure to comply with the rules for the ACP data collection could subject a provider to involuntary removal from the program.
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Tamar E. Finn