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Broadband Mapping

Federal Communications Commission Finally Approves Efforts to Improve its Broadband Mapping

Elijah Labby

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Photo of Federal Communications Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel by the Internet Education Foundation used with permission

July 16, 2020 — The Federal Communications Commission approved measures aiming to improve the accuracy and speed of the agency’s data collection practices in their July Open Meeting on Thursday.

The measure is in accordance with the Broadband Data Act, which requires fixed and mobile broadband internet service providers to hand over more granular data about which members of their respective areas have broadband coverage.

Commissioner Brendan Carr praised the move and said that it was an important step toward providing broadband service to all.

“As we make more and more progress in closing the digital divide, it becomes more and more important that we identify with precision the homes and businesses that still lack access to high-speed internet,” he said.

While she agreed with the measures, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said they should have come sooner.

“During the last three years, we have made almost no changes to our data gathering process, despite pleas from consumers who are angry that our existing maps say they have service when they know all too well they do not,” she said.

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks expressed approval at the measure’s provision for 5G technology.

“I’m also pleased that we established mapping parameters for 5G in our services,” he said. “We will soon need that data to ensure that all Americans share the benefit of a 5G future.”

The United States Telecom Association expressed approval of the decision as well.

“Fifteen months ago, US Telecom set out to prove we could leverage data and technology to cost-efficiently transform America’s broadband maps, and ultimately increase connectivity in rural America,” a representative said. “That vision is today a reality, and we are proud to have played our part in helping the FCC shape this game-changing mapping plan.”

The representative said that the next step was for Congress to approve additional funding.

“Congress must fully fund this data-driven mapping project so that future federal broadband spending will be based on the most accurate and granular map available,” they said.

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