All clients providing wireline and wireless broadband internet access, local exchange, or interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (“iVoIP”) services must file the Form 477, the Broadband and Telephone Competition Report, by March 1st. For this filing the FCC has reconfigured the data collection process to expand the granularity of the data submitted to the FCC. Significant changes include the following:
- iVoIP service providers must report customer subscription information by census tracts.1
- Providers of local exchange telephone service must also report based on census tracts and must now report, by state, how many access lines are bundled with broadband services.
- Facilities-based providers of broadband connections must report their specific maximum advertised upload/download speeds (as opposed to speed tiers). Sub census block reporting has been eliminated and carriers are now required to distinguish speeds offered for residential and non-residential services where appropriate. .
- Facilities-based providers of mobile broadband connections should report minimum advertised speeds. Speed tiers have been eliminated by the FCC.
Additional information on specific changes can be found here: https://transition.fcc.gov/Forms/Form477/form477changes.pdf
There are no regulatory exceptions or de minimis qualifications 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.
Form 477 is a labor intensive filing, and, with the FCC-mandated changes in data collection, compiling and submitting the required data, compiling the required data will be an even more onerous task. For this reason, we urge all clients to remit requested data to our firm by February 15th. The specific form 477 reporting obligations and recent changes thereto are described below.
FCC Form 477 Client Webinar
The Commpliance Group has prepared a FREE Educational Webinar covering the new updates to FCC Form 477. Topics covered in the webinar include discussion of:
If you are interested in the program, please click on this link: Download FCC Form 477 Client Webinar
CLIENT ACTION ITEMS
Clients that subscribe to the Compliance & Reporting Services (“C&R Services”), provided by TheCommpliance Group, will shortly be sent a data worksheet requesting 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.
Managed Compliance Services Subscribers: Clients currently subscribed to Managed Compliance Services should send required data to Meghan Ruwet directly at email@example.com no later than February 15th.
Non-Subscribers: Clients not currently subscribed to Managed Compliance Services, but who require assistance with the preparation and filing of the Form 477, may contact Meghan Ruwet at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Ron Quirk at email@example.com to make arrangements.
FORM 477 FILING REQUIREMENTS
FCC Form 477 collects deployment and subscriber 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 or other regulatory fee requirements.
Under the FCC’s rules, the following telecommunications service providers must file Form 477:
- iVoIP service providers
- Providers of fixed local exchange telephone service
- Facilities-based providers of broadband connections to end users
- Facilities-based providers of mobile broadband connections
A. Interconnected VoIP Service Providers
Providers of iVoIP services must report information about the number of end user subscribers they have in census tract format. Providers must breakout the percentage of subscribers who purchase the provider’s residential-grade service plan. Providers of interconnected VoIP services which also provide the “last mile” broadband facilities in conjunction with the iVoIP services must report the total number of customers by service category (e.g. DSL, fiber-to-the-home, cable, wireless).
B. Local Exchange Telephone Service Providers
Carriers providing local telephone service are required to provide only subscription information on the Form 477. No deployment information need be provided. LECs must complete and file the applicable portions of Form 477 for each census tract in which they provide local exchange service to one or more end user customers – which may include “dial-up” Internet service providers (“ ISPs”).
LECs must report the number and percentage of lines or wireless channels in the census tracts 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. Facilities-Based Providers of Broadband Connections to End Users
Facilities-based providers of broadband connections include various carriers who offer broadband services, such as: local exchange carriers (“LECs”), cable TV operators, terrestrial fixed wireless service providers, satellite network operators, electric utilities, and other entities who offer broadband to end user premises. Resellers are not included.
Providers of fixed broadband services (e.g., carriers who offer Internet connections via digital subscriber line (“”DSL”), cable, T-1 lines, satellite or FIOS) are required to file deployment and subscription data.
- Deployment Data: (a) list of census blocks in which the carrier makes broadband service available to end users; and (b) the maximum speed offered in each census block, broken out by residential and non-residential service (when appropriate) and by technology used to provide the service.
- Subscription Data: (a) number of connections to end user premises by advertised upload/download speed by census tracts; and (b) number of connections delivering Internet access service that end users purchased on a month-to-moth or longer-term basis.
Carriers must report their specific maximum advertised upload/download speeds (as opposed to speed tiers). Carriers are also required to distinguish speeds offered for residential and non-residential services, where appropriate. If the same network facilities are used to provide services to residential and non-residential services in the same area, no distinction between residential or non-residential service is required. If a provider targets only residential or non-residential customers in a given area, or deploys facilities capable of delivering different services (including higher speeds) to non-residential subscribers, the carrier must then distinguish between the two on its Form 477.
D. Facilities-Based Providers of Mobile Broadband Services
Facilities-based providers of mobile broadband services (i.e., wireless Internet access through mobile devices such as portable modems, mobile phones, USB wireless modems or tablets) have somewhat similar reporting requirements as fixed broadband carriers. There are some differences:
- Deployment Data: (a) coverage areas broken out by technology, minimum advertised upload/download speed, and spectrum band; and (b) list of census tracts where service is advertised and available to actual and potentials subscribers.
- Subscription Data: number of connections by advertised upload/download speed associated with each product subscribed to in each state where service is provided.
Facilities-Based Providers of Mobile Broadband Services must report minimum (as opposed to maximum) advertised speeds. Speed tiers, included in the former FCC Form 477 Data Request, have been eliminated.
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.
The FCC has signaled that it takes Form 477 compliance seriously and is carefully policing 477 reporting obligations. Clients can view a sample of a recent FCC Order wherein the FCC imposed monetary and compliance sanctions on three carriers that failed to file: httpss://apps.fcc.gov/edocs_public/attachmatch/DA-14-274A1.pdf.
Moreover, the FCC recently tightened up its consent decree policy, which makes it very difficult for carriers subjected to enforcement proceedings to have monetary sanctions reduced and deny wrongdoing.
1 Census tracts are defined by the US Census Bureau as statistical subdivisions of counties and can be readily ascertained through the use of geo-coding software. Our firm can assist clients with geo-coding the required subscriber information for census blocks and census tracts for an additional flat fee of $350.00.