The House on Tuesday passed a measure to improve the FCC’s broadband location maps. The issue is key because the maps are used to determine where to target broadband subsidies for carriers serving rural areas.
The bipartisan Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act (S.1822) passed by unanimous consent.
The measure will improve efforts to collect more accurate internet availability data, boost connectivity, and ensure limited resources are used to deploy broadband in communities that need it most.
Telecom advocates including the Competitive Carriers Association, USTelecom and NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association praised the move and urged the Senate to act swiftly. “Every Member of Congress knows the parts of their district that have insufficient or no broadband service, and this legislation will help ensure that these areas can access the advanced broadband services they need and deserve,” said CCA President/CEO Steve Berry.
“The bill takes several important steps toward improving broadband mapping – including more granular data collection and, the establishment of a challenge process,” said NTCA CEO Shirley Bloomfield. “Better maps will help inform policymakers and providers when making important policy and investment decisions related to rural broadband deployment.”
USTelecom President/CEO Jonathan Spalter noted that thanks to lawmakers, “future federal broadband spending in rural America is about to be based on the most accurate and granular map ever created.”
House Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Republican Leader Bob Latta (R-OH) stated: “While our way of life is becoming more reliant on technologies, 19 million Americans – including one-fourth of people in rural areas – still do not have access to broadband services. We cannot expand broadband to communities who lack adequate access without understanding exactly where those communities are, which is why this effort is so important.” Walden and Latta also urged quick Senate action on the measure.
The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act (S. 1822) would improve broadband mapping by requiring the FCC to issue new rules on and establish a process for the collection and dissemination of broadband availability data. The bill includes initiatives from two bipartisan House efforts to improve broadband mapping and the accuracy of data collected, including:
- H.R. 4229, the “Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act” or the “Broadband DATA Act,” introduced by Latta and Dave Loebsack (D-IA): This legislation requires the FCC to issue new rules to require the collection and dissemination of granular broadband availability data and to establish a process to verify the accuracy of such data.
- H.R. 4227, the “Mapping Accuracy Promotion Services Act” or the “MAPS Act,” introduced by Reps. Billy Long (R-MO) and A. Donald McEachin (D-VA): This legislation specifies that it is unlawful for a person to willfully, knowingly, or recklessly submit inaccurate broadband service data.