The deadline for filing FCC Form 477, the Broadband and Telephone Competition Report, is March1st. As the FCC pursues implementation of a national broadband plan, data collection through Form 477 will play a significant role for years to come. As such, we anticipate aggressive FCC enforcement of this deadline.
All clients providing wireline and wireless broadband internet access, local exchange, and interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“VoIP”) services must file Form 477. There are no regulatory exceptions or de minimisqualifications associated with this filing. Therefore, all clients providing any of the aforementioned services to consumers in the U.S. must file Form 477 with the FCC.
Clients should be mindful that Form 477 is a labor intensive filing. For this reason, we urge all clients to remit data to our firm at least one week before the filing is due to ensure timely filing. The specific reporting obligations associated with this filing are described below (see Form 477 Filing Requirements).
CLIENT ACTION ITEMS:
Clients subscribed to Compliance & Reporting Services (“C&R Services”), provided by our firm’s Commpliance Division, will be contacted by a regulatory specialist regarding the collection of revenue and other required data. Clients not currently subscribed to C&R Services, but who require assistance preparing and filing Form 477, should contact us at your earliest convenience to ensure timely filing. Failure to remit required data in a timely manner may result in delinquent remittance and the imposition of penalties.
C&R Services Subscribers: Clients currently subscribed to C&R Services should send required data to Meghan Ruwet directly at firstname.lastname@example.org no later than February 20th.
Non-Subscribers: Clients not currently subscribed to C&R Services, but who require assistance with the preparation and filing of the Form 477, may contact either Chris Canter at email@example.com or Meghan Ruwet at firstname.lastname@example.org to make arrangements.
If you have already sent us the required information, you may disregard this notice.
FORM 477 FILING REQUIREMENTS
FCC Form 477 collects information about broadband connections to end user locations, interconnected VoIP services, and wired and wireless local telephone services. Data obtained from this form will be used by the FCC to analyze the deployment of broadband infrastructure and competition in the domestic telecommunications marketplace. Information reported in Form 477 will not impact USF contribution obligations.
Under the FCC’s rules, the following telecommunications service providers must file Form 477:
- Facilities-based providers of broadband connections to end user locations
- Providers of fixed local exchange telephone service
- Interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service providers
- Providers of wireless local exchange or broadband services
A. Facilities-Based Providers of Broadband Connections to End User Locations
On the Form 477, all carriers providing broadband connections must categorize subscribership according to the type of technology used and the various combinations of download and upload speed categories. The reporting tiers applicable to download and upload transfer rates under the new Form 477 are as follows:
- Greater than 200 kbps but less than 768 kbps;
- Equal to or greater than 768 kbps but less than 1.5 mbps;
- Equal to or greater than 1.5 mbps but less than 3.0 mbps;
- Equal to or greater than 3.0 mbps but less than 6.0 mbps
- Equal to or greater than 6.0 mbps but less than 10.0 mbps;
- Equal to or greater than 10.0 mbps but less than 25.0 mbps;
- Equal to or greater than 25.0 mbps but less than 100.0 mbps; and
- Equal to or greater than 100 mbps.
Carriers must report this data based upon the census tract where a customer is located. Census tracts are defined by the Census Bureau as a statistical subdivision of a county and can be readily ascertained through the use of geo-coding software. Our firm will assist broadband service provider clients with geo-coding the required subscriber information.
B. Local Exchange Telephone Service
Carriers providing local telephone service (“LECs”) must complete and file the applicable portions of Form 477 for each state in which they provide local exchange service to one or more end user customers (which may include “dial-up” ISPs).
Carriers must report the number and percentage of lines or wireless channels in the states where they provide local exchange or exchange access services. These lines should allow end users to originate and/or terminate local telephone calls on the public switched telephone network (“PSTN”) – regardless of whether the line is used by the end user for voice telephone calls or for other types of traffic carried over the PSTN.
C. Reporting Requirements for Interconnected VoIP Service Providers
Providers of interconnected VoIP services must report information about the number of end user and resale subscribers they have in individual states and the percentage of the subscribers who purchase the provider’s residential-grade service plan.
Specifically, Form 477 requires providers of interconnected VoIP service to report:
- A list of 5-digit ZIP Codes within each state in which they have at least one subscriber,
- Information about the type(s) of broadband connections, if any, they or their affiliates provide in conjunction with interconnected VoIP service; and,
- Whether the interconnected VoIP service must be used over a single predetermined broadband connection or can be used over any broadband connection (in other words, whether the VoIP service is fixed or nomadic).
D. Wireless Service Providers
Wireless providers of facilities-based local exchange and mobile broadband services must file Form 477.
Providers of facilities-based local wireless services must report all mobile voice telephony subscribers that allow customers the ability to place or receive calls from the PSTN. This includes: satellite, cellular, and PCS telephone service and other terrestrial mobile services. Resellers of wireless services are not required to file Form 477.
Wireless broadband providers must categorize connections as either business or residential. In addition, wireless broadband should report:
- The number of end users whose mobile device, such as wireless modem laptop cards, smart-phones, or handsets, that are capable of sending or receiving data at speeds in excess of 200 kbps; and,
- The number of subscribers whose device and subscription permits them to access the Internet content of their choice.
Mobile broadband is defined by the FCC in Form 477 as a service which permits users lawful access to Internet content of their choice. This excludes subscribers whose choice of content is restricted to only customized-for-mobile content, among other things.
FCC LATE FEES & ENFORCEMENT
The FCC imposes steep fines against entities that fail to comply with its “reporting” regulations, which includes USF filings, CPNI Certifications, and prepaid calling card provider reports. These FCC fines frequently exceed one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000.00) for a single offense. Examples of recent enforcement actions are available on the FCC’s website: https://www.fcc.gov/eb/usfc/. Specific to the Form 477, carriers who fail to file are subject to a fine of not more than $500 for every day during which the offense occurs.
In addition, the FCC has recently signaled that they are policing FCC Form 477 reporting obligations and take compliance seriously. Clients can view the most recent FCC filing reminder here: https://hraunfoss.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-11-1992A1.pdf