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FCC Form 477: General Overview and Usage

Mitchell Paul-Soumis Updated by Mitchell Paul-Soumis

Read Time: 6 mins

This article is written from the perspective of making the most of Sonar's built-in Form 477 Reporting. For more information on the background of Form 477, visit this article | https://startyourownisp.com/posts/form477/

What is the FCC Form 477

Form 477 is used by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) in order to gather information on Internet Service Providers across the United States of America. The information gathered from Form 477 is categorized by US census tract and block, enabling the US Government to identify providers servicing areas and identify underserved areas of opportunity.

The information gathered by ISPs and delivered to the FCC is also used to power search tools such as BroadbandNow, which uses this data to create a searchable database of zip codes across the US and identify what provider(s) delivers service to the area.

As part of the FCC's data gathering, Form 477 is required to be submitted by all companies offering some level of broadband or voice services in the United States.

Broadband is specifically defined by the FCC in this case as any service capable of delivering speeds above 200 Kbps (up or down). So for all you Dial-Up providers out there, you're in the clear.

Because this filing is mandatory for service providers, it's important to have the correct tools at hand to provide accurate data and avoid common problems when filing Form 477.

For more information on 477 submissions, visit the official website HERE. There are also useful resources available directly from the FCC here, and an instructional PDF available directly from the FCC here. Sonar and our employees will never submit the report on your FCC portal for you.

How Sonar Handles FCC Form 477

At any time, you can use Sonar to generate Form 477 based on the subscriber data and deployment data you have entered into Sonar. You can request this form by going to Settings > Accounts > FCC Form 477 Reports

This page will display all historical FCC Form 477 requests and will allow you to generate a new one by clicking on the "Create FCC Form 477" button in the top-right hand corner.

That will open the Form creation window. This window allows you to create a new Form 477 report.

This window allows you to populate the information needed for the various forms you submit to the FCC:

  1. The Data Services dropdown allows you to select the specific data service for use with report generation. This field is used as Subscriber Data, providing information to the FCC about how many customers are receiving what service level. Multiple Data services can be selected in order to combine them into a single report.
    The FCC Form 477 Report will use the technology code associated with the data service during its creation. You can see more about Data Service creation in this article.
  2. The Voice Services dropdown is nearly identical to the Data Services dropdown, allowing you to select multiple services to combine into one FCC Form 477 Report and provide the subscriber data to the FCC.
  3. The Format dropdown allows you to select from the California-specific report format or the more generalized format for submission. Which format you need will depend on your service area.
The CPUC 477 reporting isn't supported in Sonar due to the number of needed format changes. This option will be removed in the future and only offer the standard FCC Form 477 report.

Once you click "Create" after completing the above information, the generated report will be sent in an email to the address on file for the user.

Additional Considerations on Deployment Data from Sonar

Because there is no absolute coverage data contained within Sonar, coverage is not something that is definitive for broadband deployments, rather it is approximated by taking your serviceable address data assigned to active accounts and converts those GPS coordinates to the FIPS and the FIPS to the proper census tract. Because of this, it is possible that your coverage data will say that you do not cover an area that you do cover simply because you have zero subscribers in that tract.

Another consideration is that the FCC Form 477 will show commercial and governmental subscribers only not commercial and governmental service speeds.

Using the FCC Form 477 Report with Multiple Companies

In order to accurately manage Form 477 Reporting with multiple companies, an option is provided within your instance settings that allows you to select between listing every account under your default company, or listing them under the company the account is registered to.

In order to configure this setting, you'll need to:

  1. Navigate to Settings -> System Settings
  2. Scroll down to the Form 477 section
  3. In the "FCC Form 477 Company Source" dropdown, select either "System-wide default company" or "Company of the account"
  4. Save your changes
When to Use Each Option

The primary difference between both these settings has to do with how you present your organization. For example, if your multiple companies are simply flanker brands in different markets, you could choose to have the report fall under your main company and make a single submission.

Conversely, if your multiple companies are truly operationally distinct, it would make sense to make multiple submissions for each company and have the report generate details for each account according to the company it belongs to.

Troubleshooting your FCC Form 477 Filing

If you've received communication from the FCC regarding an incorrect filing, there are a few things to note and attempt. The FCC will email your organization if there are any questions or corrections to be made on the filing. If you contact support for assistance, please provide the entire email from the FCC for the most appropriate assistance.

If corrections need to be made to your report, you can either manually update the data contained in the CSV or generate a new report after correcting the issues in Sonar.

FCC Form 477 Reports are only ever generated with the current data - this means a new report being generated may have new accounts or Deployment Data information that did not exist in the original report. For this reason, Sonar can't provide a recommendation to either correct an existing report or generate a new one for any corrections.

Troubleshooting your Reported Speeds

The speeds reported by the FCC Form 477 report are generated directly from the Data services you've created in Sonar. When a Data Service is generated, you enter an "Upload speed in kilobits per second" and "Download speed in kilobits per second":

This section should be the same as your advertised speeds, and shouldn't be modified for actual speeds being delivered to the customer. The generated report will always use these speeds, and your configured Inline Devices or DHCP servers won't affect the reported speeds.

If you're having issues with specific services, you can contact the support team in order to receive assistance generating a custom report that will allow you to easily view all your services.

Troubleshooting your Reported Addresses/Deployment Data

When generating FCC Form 477 Reports, the addresses and the deployment data use the Serviceable Address of the accounts in your instance.

  1. If your addresses are being reported incorrectly, ensure the city, state, and street address information is correct.
  2. If the Census Codes are being reported incorrectly, verify the Latitude and Longitude of your Serviceable Addresses.
  3. Ensure you place the pin in the correct location on the map for your serviceable addresses - an antenna installed a 1/2 mile from the house will result in a different census block
The FCC Form 477 Report will only show where you currently have service, it won't show where you could potentially serve new customers.

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