Office of Broadband Broadband Availability Challenge

What is the Challenge Process?
 

The State of Missouri received $1.7 billion through the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program to bring service to all Missourians that lack access to reliable broadband. The goal of the BEAD State Challenge Process is to improve the Missouri Broadband Map so that the Office of Broadband Development (OBD) has the most accurate map possible to use to make funding decisions.   

Through the Missouri Broadband Map, challengers will be able to provide information indicating that locations should or should not be available for funding. The window for filing challenges opened March 25, 2024, and close on May 8, 2024.

View Missouri Broadband Map

 

Missouri Broadband Availability Challenge Process Extended

To accommodate unexpected technical challenges related to the launch of the state challenge portal, the Office of Broadband Development (OBD) is announcing a 15-day extension of the challenge submission phase of Missouri’s state challenge process. The extension has been approved by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the federal agency responsible for the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.

The NTIA also approved an OBD proposal to accept rebuttal submissions through the end of the 30-day rebuttal window, rather than on a rolling basis from challenge notification. This amended timeline will be reflected in the challenge portal shortly.

The amended timeline is as follows:

April 25 – May 8: Challenge submission

May 9 – June 7: Rebuttal submission

June 8 – July 7: Broadband office adjudication

OBD remains committed to a fair and expeditious challenge process. This extension reflects the importance OBD places on accurately distributing BEAD funds to extend broadband service into unserved and underserved areas.

For information about the challenge process and BEAD mapping, visit ded.mo.gov/office-broadband-development/challenge. For questions about this extension, contact broadband@ded.mo.gov. Challenges can be filed at broadbandmap.mo.gov.

Challenge Process Key Information

Overview of Challenge Process Phases

Publication of Eligible Locations

OBD has posted the final set of locations eligible for BEAD funding. Eligible locations consist of ‘unserved’ and ‘underserved’ locations outside of existing federal or state funded areas. This data is sourced from the FCC’s National Broadband Map and NTIA’s National Broadband Availability Map (NBAM). Additionally, the office has published locations that are served, including funded areas, as they may be challenged.  This dataset is viewable in the Missouri Broadband Map and downloadable in the Dataset Downloads section below. 

Challengers are encouraged to use this time to register in the Missouri Broadband Map, review the classification of BSLs, identify the ones they plan to challenge, and gather the necessary evidence to submit a challenge. 

Challenge Phase

During this phase, eligible entities (i.e. local governments, nonprofit organizations, and internet service providers) may submit challenges through the Missouri Broadband Map, and members of the public will be able to submit evidence that could substantiate challenges. Challenges must include evidentiary support of each challenge based on the evidence documentation provided in the state’s BEAD Initial Proposal Volume I. The Challenge Phase will be open for 30 calendar days. 

As evidence pertaining to a challenge is reviewed and accepted, the public-facing map will update to indicate that the location is in a challenged state. Once the challenge has been sustained or rejected, the location’s status will be updated on the map to indicate the new service categorization (Served, Underserved, or Unserved). This capability allows all stakeholders to stay informed throughout the lifecycle of the challenge process.

Deadlines are a critical element of the BEAD Process: It is recommended to submit challenges early. If any errors exist, there will be an opportunity to re-submit, but only within the Challenge Phase window. No changes will be accepted after the 30-day Challenge Phase window. The Challenge Phase will run from Mar. 25 to Apr. 23, 2024.

Rebuttal Phase 

Each challenge will have 30 calendar days to be rebutted. This length of time begins at the time of challenge evidence approval by OBD. At the end of the Challenge Phase, an official Rebuttal Phase of 30 calendar days will begin. This phase serves as a buffer and ensures all challenges submitted at the end of the Challenge Phase have ample time to be rebutted. Only rebutters to challenges filed at the end of the challenge phase will have until the end of the rebuttal phase to file their rebuttal. The rebuttal phase will conclude May 23, 2024. 

All rebuttals will be reviewed by the OBD to determine if the rebuttal evidence is sufficient. If rebuttal evidence is sufficient, the challenge is rejected. If the rebuttal evidence is not sufficient, the challenge is sustained.

Final Determination Phase

From the date of the rebuttal, each challenge will have 30 calendar days for finalization from the OBD. This length of time is specified in the BEAD Initial Proposal Volume I. Challenge evidence must be fully reviewed by the OBD, and the challenge must be classified as ‘sustained’ or ‘rejected.’ At the end of the Rebuttal Phase, an official Final Determination Phase will begin. This phase serves as a buffer and ensures all rebuttals submitted at the end of the Rebuttal Phase have ample time to be accepted or rejected.  In select cases where the submitted challenge and rebuttal evidence does not allow the OBD to determine the presence of service at a reasonable degree of confidence, the Office may choose to send employees or contractors to gather additional evidence. Standards for review for validation evidence will align with standards of review for challenge and rebuttal evidence. 

Challenge Timelines
OBD Challenge Timeline
Public Evidence Submission

Upon opening the challenge process, members of the public will be able to report locations that lack service and should be eligible for funding through the Missouri Broadband Map.

  • How to Report Availability Evidence – This document provides full instructions for the public on submitting availability evidence through the Missouri Broadband Map.
  • How to Take a Speed Test – This document provides full instructions for the public on taking a speed test through the Missouri Broadband Map.
  • Evidence Criteria - This document outlines the evidence that should be submitted to substantiate a challenge.
Account Registration

Eligible challengers can request an account in the Missouri Broadband Map (aka Broadband Navigator). Only the following entities are eligible to submit challenges to the State under the BEAD Program federal policy:

  1. Units of Local and Tribal Governments
  2. Nonprofit Organizations
  3. Internet Service Providers (ISPs)

While not eligible challengers, members of the public will be able to submit evidence that could substantiate challenges as described in the section above. 

How to Register for an Account - This document provides full instructions on account registration. 

Instructions on Submitting and Rebutting Challenges

Missouri Broadband Navigator User Guide v1.0 - Full user guide including instructions on Submitting and Rebutting Challenges, Navigator Walkthrough, and more.

 

Challenge & Rebuttal Submission Tutorial - Local Governments & Nonprofits

 

Challenge & Rebuttal Submission Tutorial - ISPs

BEAD Initial Proposal Volume 1

Missouri’s Initial Proposal Volume one lays out the rules governing location-level BEAD eligibility, including the rules that will govern the state challenge process. The version posted here is the final version, with changes from previous documents noted and highlighted. The documents below are required attachments to the Initial Proposal referenced in the text.

Dataset Downloads

Dataset Downloads

The BEAD location eligibility data in the map is available for download in the following reports (csv format). To map this data to specific coordinates and addresses, GIS software and a location fabric license* are required.    

  • Location status - indicates how each location appears on the map by location id, with basic availability and funding information about how it reached this point. 
  • Funding summary - indicates the funding data used in the map, including funded program and brand name, by location id.
  • Pre-challenge summary - indicates the pre-challenge modifications made to the map. Location ids with multiple modifications will have a row for each modification.
  • Data Dictionary (Pre-Challenge)

*Under the terms of OBD’s license with CostQuest Associates, the office cannot allow downloads of the fabric used to generate maps or otherwise make them available to unlicensed third parties. Parties interested in analyzing this data using their internal GIS resources will need to apply for a license at apps.costquest.com/NTIArequest. More details about this process were provided in a previous OBD Stakeholder Update. The recording can be found at this link. Information about licensing begins at minute mark 36:26.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why are we holding another challenge process?

Some Missouri residents and broadband deployment stakeholders have participated in the Federal Communications Commission broadband challenge process, and OBD promoted participation in the process across the state of Missouri in 2023. These challenges contributed to the size of Missouri’s allocation of funding under the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program and should generally be reflected on Missouri’s broadband map on broadbandmap.mo.gov.

The state challenge process is a required additional step before BEAD funding can be allocated to broadband deployment processes across the state. This will be the last opportunity to provide information indicating that locations should or should not be eligible for broadband spending under this $1.7 billion Missouri program. There are also some differences in the rules governing the state challenge process that allow it to address broadband reporting issues not possible in the FCC challenge process, including:

  1. Unlike the FCC challenge process, the state challenge process allows incorporation of speed tests as the basis of a challenge
  2. The state challenge process has a mechanism for triggering “area challenges” when enough challenges are filed against a given provider in a given geography
  3. The state challenge process allows reporting of service availability for public- and community-serving institutions with high broadband needs (“community anchor institutions” like schools and hospitals”)

Data reporting continues through the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection, and challenges can still be filed to location and availability data reported on that map. While the state challenge process is ongoing, however, the best way of disputing broadband eligibility is through the state challenge process at broadbandmap.mo.gov.

How can members of the public participate in this process?

Members of the public can take speed tests or submit availability evidence to indicate that reported service is not available at their address through broadbandmap.mo.gov. If acceptable evidence is submitted, this evidence will be treated as the basis of a challenge. 

A home or business is correctly placed on the map, but the address is incorrect. Should I be concerned about this?

Not in terms of broadband funding under the BEAD program. Obligations to extend service made under the BEAD program will be based on locations, not addresses. A location on the map that is determined to be eligible for BEAD funding at the end of the state challenge process will not be denied service from a BEAD project awarded for their area because the address listed on the map is different from the address used for the location. 

The underlying dataset used to produce these addresses is the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric used by the Federal Communications Commission for broadband reporting. It is possible to file challenges to incorrect location information on this map, including the address listed for a particular location

 A home or business does not appear on the map. How can it be added?

OBD generally cannot add locations to this map through its state challenge process. The underlying dataset used to produce these addresses is the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric used by the Federal Communications Commission for broadband reporting. This data feeds into the state of Missouri’s list of broadband serviceable locations for the purposes of the BEAD program. It is possible to file challenges to incorrect location information on this map, including locations that do not appear on the map. OBD encourages anybody aware of a missing location to file a challenge to the FCC map directly. If you are not able to file a challenge through this process, contact broadbandmap@ded.mo.gov.

What evidence can I provide if a provider declined to provide service over the phone or in person?

OBD accepts a “written account of a conversation with a provider representative” as the basis of a challenge. This account can be written in the word processing program of the evidence provider’s choice, saved as a pdf, and submitted as evidence. Evidence should include the date on which the service was refused. The refusal must have taken place within 180 days of the submission of the challenge.

Why do locations show as challenged by the broadband office? Why were there 605,248 challenges listed on the challenge dashboard when the challenge process launched?

OBD applied “pre-challenge modifications” to the broadband availability data drawn from the Federal Communications Commission’s Broadband Data Collection. In some cases, these modifications are rebuttable if a provider establishes that service is actually available. In order to allow providers to file these rebuttals, these modifications were loaded into the map as challenges at the start of the challenge process. While the map does show that more than 600,000 instances of provider reported service were subject to these rebuttable pre-challenge modifications, OBD notes that a small minority of these modifications resulted in a change in BEAD eligibility (around three percent of locations subject to pre-challenge modifications changed BEAD eligibility).

Where should I file challenges or submit evidence?

The goal of the state challenge process is to allocate BEAD funding, not to fix every error on with broadband reporting or the Federal Communication Commission’s National Broadband Map. OBD encourages challenge process participants to focus their attention on filing evidence that will change BEAD eligibility. Challenges to service reported on broadbandmap.mo.gov will not change BEAD eligibility if:

  1. The challenged location is already receiving funding from another an ongoing broadband subsidy program. These locations are indicated by a green “Funded” box under the “Broadband Funding” heading when the location is selected. If a location is included in an ongoing broadband expansion project, it will not be eligible for additional funding under the BEAD program. Locations within the funding areas that appear when the “funding” option is toggled on will all have this status. These locations should receive service from the funded project in the next few years, depending on the details of the program.
  2. Another provider is listed for the location offering speed of 100/20 Mbps using a technology other than DSL or cellular licensed fixed wireless. If a challenge is sustained for a location but another provider offers qualifying service, that location generally will not be eligible for funding under the BEAD program.
  3. The location is already considered eligible for BEAD funding (i.e. service status is already unserved or underserved and no award of public funding)

While OBD will accept challenges in these scenarios, OBD’s priority in adjudicating challenges will be challenges which, if sustained, would change funding eligibility, either alone or in combination with other filed challenges. 

Some ISPs may wish to submit challenges asserting that they now provide previously unreported service at a given location, that they will provide service by the end of 2024, or that they have entered into a binding commitment with a government agency to provide service. These challenges, if sustained, would make the locations ineligible for BEAD funding. Challenges that add current or prospective service to the FCC map will not change BEAD eligibility if:

  1. The challenged location is receiving broadband funding from another program
  2. A provider is listed for the location offering speed of 100/20 Mbps using a technology other than DSL or cellular licensed fixed wireless

Again, OBD will accept challenges in these scenarios, but may opt not to adjudicate challenges that do not change BEAD eligibility.  For internet service providers and others interested in challenging multiple locations, this information can be downloaded by FCC location id. Locations that are marked “funded” on broadbandmap.mo.gov are listed by funded project and provider in the “Funding summary” file listed on this page under “dataset downloads”, and the overall funding status and BEAD eligibility at the beginning of the state challenge process for each location is listed in the “Location status” file in the “pre_challenge_funding” and “pre_challenge_eligibility” field. Availability data listed by location id can be downloaded directly from the FCC.

Broadband Mapping Process Office Hours

The Office of Broadband Development (OBD) will begin holding weekly office hours on Wednesday, April 3, at 2 p.m. to discuss different elements of the state’s broadband mapping process, including the submission of proposed project areas through the request for information process and the state challenge process. OBD staff will be on hand to answer questions about either process.

Participants can find foundational information about BEAD mapping at ded.mo.gov/office-broadband-development/challenge and view Missouri’s broadband map at broadbandmap.mo.gov.

Office hours will be held each Wednesday at this time through at least April 24. Registration is now available via the links below.

Wednesday, April 3 | 2 p.m.

Wednesday, April 10 | 2 p.m.

Wednesday, April 17 | 2 p.m.

Wednesday, April 24 | 2 p.m.

Project Area Submission (RFI) Key Information

Request for Information Overview

The goal of the RFI process is to generate application areas that can be applied for competitively through the BEAD program. The RFI process allows potential BEAD applicants to indicate the geographic scope of projects for which they may apply for BEAD funding by submitting project areas. These project areas will inform the boundaries of BEAD application areas. To generate the application areas, OBD will:

  1. Create new application areas that can be applied for competitively where multiple submitted project areas overlap
  2. Split project areas when they cross county lines and the boundaries of NTIA-identified high-cost areas
  3. Create state-defined application areas where no project areas were submitted
  4. Consolidate areas when the process above results in very small application areas.

Any eligible BEAD applicant may apply for funding in any application area. This process is designed to allow BEAD applicants to apply for areas that reflect their natural service territories while allowing for competitive applications and accomplishing the goal of extending service to all BEAD-eligible locations. 

Submission of project areas through the RFI are not required to apply for BEAD funding, and submission of project areas does not commit the submitting provider to file an application for the submitted area. 

How to Submit

Project area can be submitted in two ways:

  1. On broadbandmap.mo.gov, logged-in providers will have an option to select the locations that constitute their project area and submit them directly through the portal.
  2. Potential applicants can also submit project areas as shapefiles at this link.

Project areas should only be submitted using one of the two methods.

RFI Timelines

Project area submission will be open for 45 days from April 1, 2024.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the difference between a “project area” and an “application area”?

OBD uses the phrase “project area” to refer to the boundaries submitted by potential BEAD applicants through the RFI process. OBD uses the phrase “application area” to discuss the areas that will be generated by OBD through the state challenge process and applied for competitively after BEAD applications open. 

Can my submission include locations that are not eligible for BEAD?

Submitted project areas may include locations that are not BEAD eligible, either because they are included in a Missouri-identified enforceable commitment or because they are “served” by BEAD standards. OBD will interpret a submitted project area as an indication that the submitter is interested in receiving BEAD funds to serve all the eligible locations in the submitted area. The application areas generated at the end of the RFI process may also include BEAD-ineligible locations, but the winner of that application area would only be required to provide service to the eligible locations within the application area.

How does the RFI process interact with the challenge process?

Changes made as a result of the state challenge process may result in changes in the number of eligible locations associated with the application areas generated at the end of the RFI process. In cases where substantial changes in BEAD eligibility occurred, the map of application areas may be further adjusted to ensure that the resulting application areas contain a reasonable number of eligible locations. 

What are “high-cost areas”?

High-cost areas are areas designated by NTIA where broadband deployment is expected to be especially expensive. Within these areas, OBD will be able to award grant funding without requiring a 25 percent match from the awardee. A map of these areas can be viewed here. More information about high-cost areas, including shapefiles of high-cost areas generated by NTIA, can be found here.