TR Daily Bill Would Let Consumers, States, Towns Populate Broadband Maps
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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Bill Would Let Consumers, States, Towns Populate Broadband Maps

Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D., Minn.), Shelley Moore Capito (R., W.Va.), Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), and John Hoeven (R., N.D.) have introduced legislation that would require the FCC to consider incorporating data reported by consumers and state and local governments into its broadband coverage maps and also to consider ways that fixed and mobile coverage data could be challenged, they announced today.

The FCC’s broadband coverage maps, which it uses to determine what areas are eligible for carrier support to deploy broadband services, have come under perennial criticism for inaccuracy.

The proposed Improving Broadband Mapping Accuracy Act would “help ensure we are closing the digital divide with accurate mapping and bringing high-speed internet to every family, regardless of their zip code,” Sen. Klobuchar said.

“As a follow up to our letter to Chairman Pai last September, I am proud to join my fellow Senate Broadband Caucus co-chair [Sen. Klobuchar] to introduce a bill that builds upon our work to close the digital divide in rural America. This legislation will allow West Virginians to voluntarily provide valuable feedback about the actual mobile service in their communities; and ultimately, better connect our state and others across the country,” Sen. Capito said.

“As the only member of Congress to formally challenge a federal broadband coverage map through the Mobility Fund Phase II challenge process, I know firsthand just how valuable public input can be in validating and supplementing the provider data that is used to draw these maps. This bill is a good first step, and I hope the FCC will take action to begin this rulemaking process,” Sen. Manchin said.

“Our legislation would help improve the quality of the data used for the maps and allow for a process to correct mistakes. This will help ensure communities have adequate coverage and that federal investments in broadband infrastructure are being made as effectively and efficiently as possible,” Sen. Hoeven said.

The sponsors noted in their press release that Minnesota and West Virginia were among the eight initial states chosen by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration as partners in its effort to use state data to update the national broadband availability map. NTIA used state data in creating the broadband map with funding from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvention Act, but when that funding ran out, the FCC took over the map, updating it with data provided by carriers on its Form 477. —Lynn Stanton, [email protected]

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