Washington, DC — Last week, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims issued a public decision affirming the FCC’s award to CostQuest Associates (CQA) of a contract to provide the FCC with a Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric. The Broadband Fabric data developed by CQA will identify all locations across the US that can be connected with broadband services. This data set serves as the basis of the FCC’s Broadband Data Collection effort which will then drive $42.45B in federal broadband funding related to the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
In upholding the FCC’s award to CQA, the Court rejected entirely a bid protest filed by LightBox Parent, L.P. (“LightBox”), which challenged the award, claiming that CQA misrepresented its rights in certain data used as part of the process by which it creates the Fabric. This is the second time a tribunal has rejected LightBox’s claims—the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) similarly dismissed and denied a LightBox protest last February. Nonetheless, LightBox’s protests have significantly delayed CostQuest’s original scheduled delivery of the Fabric—the GAO protest resulted in an automatic suspension of contract performance, which led to a stoppage of more than 100 days of the development of the data set, and both award challenges diverted valuable FCC and CostQuest resources.
The attorney representing CQA, Anuj Vohra said “we now have two separate rulings affirming the validity of the FCC’s selection process for the contract. That clearly puts this issue to bed.” CQA CEO James Stegeman stated that “while it is great to have these challenges behind us, the halting of the work resulting from the protests led to delays in critical calendar-dependent updates to source data for the Fabric. Still, CQA and the FCC were able to deliver an initial Broadband Fabric data set consistent with contractual and statutory requirements, even if 4 months later than expected.” Mr. Stegeman continued, “I am glad that now we can put our full time and energy into further developing this data set and doing our part in what we came here to do – help provide the critical information that will help identify where broadband is (and is not) available so that parties can focus on connecting millions of Americans to the broadband service they need and close the digital divide.”
The FCC is assembling service availability data from fixed broadband service providers to overlay on the Broadband Fabric data set in order to create a National Broadband Map, which, in accordance with the Broadband DATA ACT, signed into law in 2020, must be used for several funding programs going forward.
About CostQuest Associates
CostQuest Associates (CQA) has long led the communications industry in the knowledge of broadband economics, including costs, network modeling, telecommunications economics, and regulation. CQA has now applied its communications knowledge and advanced data science to develop the most accurate data to support business decisions and policies related to broadband deployment. CQA has offices in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Seattle, Washington.