BillMax Coverages

The term “Coverages”, as used by Internet Services Providers, describes the geographical areas that internet service is offered by a provider. Coverages are useful for marketing purposes and also are a critical component necessary for the generation of governmental reports such as the FCC 477 and Broadband Data Collection (BDC) reports.

For the FCC 477 report, BillMax generates coverages using radius, azimuth and beam width settings per Access Point. For the new BDC report, coverages will no longer be created from within BillMax. Instead,coverage must be generated elsewhere using methods suitable to the FCC. Please see for details.

Beginning with the 2022 Q3 release, BillMax supports the generation of the BDC report. To do so, it uses the Data Fabric method of submittal where the Coverages are specified by addresses (not as census blocks as the FCC 477 requires).

To generate the BDC report in BillMax, the fabric (addresses) data and Coverages (as polygons) must be loaded into BillMax. The fabric data is available under license, free of charge, from Costquest Inc. See Coverages, typically using Radio Frequency (RF) and terrain analysis are available from a number of third-party vendors. Some of which include, Cambium’s cnHeat offering, Tower Coverage, Google’s Network Planner (beta). BillMax makes no assertions as to the suitability of these products.

Coverages for the BDC, and eventually for other purposes in BillMax, are typically loaded by Access Point. The input for this loading is ESRI shapefiles. Shapefile actually refers to a set of files (up to 6). In BillMax these files are loaded as a ZIP (compressed archive) file.

Coverages outline areas but also are accompanied with meta-data that describe certain attributes for that area. For the BDC report the FCC requires the following attributes: Technology code (wireless,cable, fiber, etc.), Speed, Latency, Customer Type (Residential, Business).

Coverages must be provided for each unique combination of technology, speed, latency, and customer type. Where coverages overlap for a technology, the highest speed rates should be reported.

Ideally, for best functionality, Coverages should be maintained by Access Point. Doing so offers the possibility of spatial applications that involve customer service addresses (for example, the automatic assignment of a service address to an Access Point).

However, coverage data provided by third-party vendors often doesn’t include this data. For this reason, it is possible to load Coverages such that the Access Point references are “virtual” in nature. For example, a provider offers services via fiber and wireless. Each technology, has three tiers of service(speed). For such a scenario, at a minimum 6 separate shapefiles would be required. All of which could be loaded and associated with a single virtual Access Point (if the shapefiles have all the needed attributes, or via 6 access points with the appropriates settings if the attributes aren’t available in the files).