Data analysis

Michael Jones: Maps and data analytics are keys to effective targeting of broadband subsidies : Broadband Breakfast

WASHINGTON, March 16, 2022 — Data company LightBox said it was disappointed with the government’s decision to reject its appeal for a mapping contract from the Federal Communications Commission, saying the winning bidder does not own the rights to the data. he will collect for the agency.

“CostQuest does not own the data”, CEO of LightBox Eric Frank Broadband Breakfast in an interview, following a Government Accountability Office decision last month to deny LightBox’s appeal challenging the FCC’s decision to award the contract to CostQuest.

“Light Box is a data company. Our clients [have been choosing our data for years] on a national basis to do a lot of things: understand points of interest, understand location data, understand routing, understand logistics, understand geospatial information,” Frank said. “It’s our business. The FCC awarded a project to a consulting firm, not a data company. »

The GAO, which issued its decision Feb. 24, said it found nothing wrong with the FCC’s decision in November to award the contract to CostQuest, which will build what’s called the Broadband Serviceable. Rental Fabric. The fabric, required by law for the accuracy of deployment and technological availability of broadband, will provide the basis for the newer, more accurate map on which the dispersal of billions of federal dollars for broadband infrastructure depends.

LightBox’s objections to CostQuest’s contract alleged that CostQuest used licensed data from third parties who did not themselves have the right to license the data. The watchdog said in its ruling that it has no reason to believe the data will be used to infringe the rights of data owners, adding that it “would not re-evaluate the proposals, or substitute our judgment for that of the agency, as the evaluation of proposals is a matter at the discretion of the agency,” referring to the scope of its investigation.

“[We create a fabric] by collecting our own data, we derive our own construction fingerprints from imagery and Lidar, and use our own address data,” Frank said in the interview. “That’s how you create the fabric – we do it all in-house.

“At the end of the day, if you’re going to buy a national fabric, there’s an element of due diligence – there’s an element of trying to find out which organization has the best methodologies. We don’t think that’s been served” , added Frank.

Despite the decision, LightBox, which is a sponsor of Broadband Breakfast, is still working to create statewide broadband fabrics. In January, the Montana Department of Administration announced that it had hired LightBox to create a statewide broadband map. The map will use LightBox’s proprietary data to allocate $266 million to improve broadband service for unserved and underserved communities.

In December, the property analytics firm also launched its own nationwide Smart Location Fabric, which it says provides a more detailed view of areas where coverage does not exist. The company said it has licensed the fabric in Georgia and Alabama.

CostQuest continued work on the fabric despite the appeal

On the other side, CostQuest – although it said it was slowed down by the appeal filed shortly after the contract was awarded in November – said it worked on the fabric even as the LightBox call was in the air.

“Over the past few months, we have moved from version 3 to version 4 of our BSL trading dataset,” Mike Wilson, CostQuest’s vice president of business development, said in an interview with Broadband Breakfast. “We also aligned all of our other models and data layers with the BSLs and into a comprehensive broadband fabric data suite. This includes modeling fiber and fixed wireless costs, estimating service availability (likelihood locations are served by type of broadband technology), demographics, and more.

To do this, CostQuest said it will collect broadband data collection filings submitted by ISPs nationwide. The FCC has set a start period of June 30 to collect this data and a deadline of September 1, 2022 by which ISPs can submit this data. The first release of the CostQuest fabric is due within 120 days of contract approval.

“This fabric will provide the common basis on which all parties will report and understand location-level coverage,” Wilson said. “There’s a lot of work to do, and accurate data will support more informed decisions about funding, construction, and other initiatives related to bridging the digital divide.”