BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: Together with her Democratic colleague Sen. Maggie Hassan, Republican Sen. Shelley Moore Capito on Friday introduced legislation designed to establish a national standard that would govern the Federal Communications Commission’s determination about whether mobile and broadband services in rural areas are “reasonably comparable” to service provided in urban areas. Capito has also recently introduced a number of other pieces of broadband legislation, including Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act (with Sens. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn. and Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska), and the Broadband Data Improvement Act (with Sens. Brian Schatz, D- Hawai‘i, Jerry Moran, R-Kansas, and Jon Tester, D-Montana). The measures demonstrate that the desire on Capitol Hill for better rural broadband is palpable, and bipartisan.
CAPITO, HASSAN INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO HELP CLOSE THE RURAL-URBAN DIGITAL DIVIDE, from Sen. Shelley Moore Capito:
Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) yesterday reintroduced the bipartisan Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act to help close the rural-urban digital divide and expand access to broadband in rural parts of West Virginia, New Hampshire, and across the country.
The bipartisan Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act of 2019 directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to establish a national standard for determining whether mobile and broadband services in rural areas are “reasonably comparable” to service provided in urban areas. The bill will help ensure that there is equitable wireless and broadband service in rural and urban areas, which has long be undefined.
“As we work to close the digital divide across the country, setting a national standard is important in order to measure progress,” Senator Capito said. “I’m proud to sponsor this bill because by requiring the FCC to set that standard, we can better identify how we can build out broadband quicker and more effectively across rural areas like West Virginia.”
“In the 21st century innovation economy, access to high-speed internet is not a luxury – it’s a necessity,” Senator Hassan said. “Our bipartisan legislation takes an important step to ensure that people and businesses in both rural and urban communities are able to receive similar access to wireless and broadband services.”
As part of their efforts to close the rural-urban digital divide, Senators Capito and Hassan first introduced the Rural Reasonable and Comparable Wireless Access Act in 2018. The two senators also recently joined their colleagues from both sides of the aisle in sending a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai advocating for an additional public feedback mechanism that would utilize crowdsourced data to empower consumers and states to help inform broadband coverage maps and report any lack of broadband access to the FCC.
(Photo of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito from her website.)
FCC Speed Test App To Improve Broadband Mapping, Agency Says
The agency hopes its new speed test will inform an initiative for more accurate broadband maps.
April 12, 2021 – As part of the Federal Communications Commission’s effort to collect comprehensive data on broadband availability across the United States, the agency is encouraging the public to download its Speed Test app, it announced Monday.
The FCC is using data collected from the app as part of the Measuring Broadband America program. The app provides a way for consumers to test the performance of their mobile and in-home broadband networks. In addition to showing network performance test results to the user, the app provides the test results to the FCC while protecting the privacy and confidentiality of program volunteers. It is available on the major app stores.
“To close the gap between digital haves and have nots, we are working to build a comprehensive, user-friendly dataset on broadband availability,” Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement. “Expanding the base of consumers who use the FCC Speed Test app will enable us to provide improved coverage information to the public and add to the measurement tools we’re developing to show where broadband is truly available throughout the United States.”
The network coverage and performance information gathered from the Speed Test data will help to inform the commission’s efforts to collect more accurate and granular broadband deployment data. The app will also be used in the future for consumers to challenge provider-submitted maps when the Broadband Data Collection systems become available.
The FCC has been working to improve its broadband mapping system from Form 477 for several years. Development of the Digital Opportunity Data Collection system began in August 2019, and Rosenworcel created a task force in February 2021 to advance that system. On April 7, the agency announced May 7 as the date for establishing the Digital Opportunity Data Collection.
Closing Digital Divide Starts With Accurate Maps, Says Gigi Sohn
March 15, 2021 – Gigi Sohn, former president of advocacy group Public Knowledge, said authorities at the Federal Communications Commission and the states need to start with good broadband maps to see where connectivity gaps exist.
“Start at square one, and that is with good data and good maps,” said Sohn, who was speaking at a virtual LGBT Bar Association event on March 10. “Right now, the data the FCC is using to determine where there is broadband and where there is not is grossly inaccurate.”
Good policy cannot be done with bad maps, she said, but she added progress is being made with Congress’ passing of the Broadband DATA Act and the FCC receiving than $98 million to deploy mapping. However, she noted that the FCC is moving “a little slower than she would prefer” to build these maps.
In December, the FCC awarded $9.2 billion in funding from the first round of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. Sohn said, however, that the money was doled out with bad maps.
She said part of the problem is that different federal agencies are lacking coordination with maps, which creates duplicate decisions and more bureaucracy.
One solution lies in getting the state agencies involved. “The states cannot be left out of the calculation. There must need to be a blueprint to where the funding is going to go so there is no duplication and everybody can be served,” said Sohn.
“Unfortunately, because it is taking the FCC so long to build these maps, the states are doing by themselves,” she added.
Georgia and Maine, for example, are beginning to go it alone with their own broadband maps.
“I do believe the state maps are going to be more granular than what the federal government is going to come up with,” Sohn said.
New Broadband Mapping Fabric Will Help Unify Geocoding Across the Broadband Industry, Experts Say
March 11, 2021 – The Federal Communications Commission’s new “fabric” for mapping broadband service across America will not only help collect more accurate data, but also unify geocoding across the broadband industry, industry experts said during a Federal Communications Bar Association webinar Thursday.
Broadband service providers are not geocoding experts, said Lynn Follansbee of US Telecom, and they don’t know where all the people are.
The new fabric dataset is going to be very useful to get a granular look at what is and what is not served and to harmonize geocoding, she said.
AT&T’s Mary Henze agreed. “We’re a broadband provider, we’re not a GIS company,” she said. Unified geocode across the whole field will help a lot to find missing spots in our service area, she said.
The new Digital Opportunity Data Collection fabric is a major shift from the current Form 477 data that the FCC collects, which has been notoriously inaccurate for years. The effort to improve broadband mapping has been ongoing for years, and in 2019 US Telecom in partnership with CostQuest and other industry partners created the fabric pilot program.
That has been instrumental in lead to the new FCC system, panelists said. It is called a “fabric” dataset because it is made up of other datasets that interlace like fabric, Follansbee explained.
The fabric brings new challenges, especially for mobile providers, said Chris Wieczorek of T-Mobile. With a whole new set of reporting criteria to fill out the fabric, it will lead to confusion for consumers, and lots of work for the new task force, he said.
Henze said that without the fabric, closing the digital divide between those with broadband internet and those without has been impossible.
Digital Opportunity Data Collection expected to help better map rural areas
The new mapping can help in rural areas where the current geolocation for a resident may be a mailbox that is several hundred feet or farther away from the actual house that needs service, Follansbee said.
Rural areas aren’t the only places that will benefit, though. It can also help in dense urban areas where vertical location in a residential building is important to getting a good connection, said Wieczorek.
The fabric will also help from a financial perspective, because of the large amount of funding going around, said Charter Communications’ Christine Sanquist. The improved mapping can help identify where best to spend that funding for federal agencies, providers, and local governments, she said.
There is now more than $10 billion in new federal funding for broadband-related projects, with the recent $3.2 billion Emergency Broadband Benefit program as part of the Consolidated Appropriations Act in December 2020 and the new $7.6 Emergency Connectivity Fund part of the American Rescue Plan that President Joe Biden signed into law Thursday.
The new FCC task force for implementing the new mapping system was created in February 2021, and is being led by , led by Jean Kiddoo at the FCC. No specific dates have been set yet for getting the system operational.
- Faster Rural Broadband Bill, Tools For Robocalls, Opposition To Instagram For Kids
- Telecoms Should Actively Build Broadband Infrastructure Through Road Developments
- Openreach Partners With STL For Fiber Build
- FCC to Vote On Emergency Connectivity Fund Policies By Mid-May: Rosenworcel
- Broadband Report Cards, Washington Muni Networks Bill, Supreme Court Fair Use Winners
- Virt Seeks To Serve As The Hub To Find And Join Virtual Events
Signup for Broadband Breakfast
Artificial Intelligence3 months ago
Artificial Intelligence Aims to Enhance Human Capabilities, But Only With Caution and Safeguards
Fiber4 months ago
Smaller Internet Providers Were Instrumental to Fiber Deployment in 2020, Says Fiber Broadband Association
Privacy1 month ago
New Laws Needed on Capturing Data Collection From Mixed Reality, Experts Say
Artificial Intelligence1 month ago
Staying Ahead On Artificial Intelligence Requires International Cooperation
#broadbandlive1 month ago
Broadband Breakfast Live Online Wednesday, March 24, 2021 – The State of Online Higher Education
Cybersecurity3 months ago
Internet of Things Connected Devices Are Inherently Insecure, Say Tech Experts
White House3 months ago
Building Better Broadband Underscores Joe Biden’s Top Policy Initiatives
Broadband Roundup2 months ago
Getting Older Adults Connected, Nextlink Internet Partnership, Tacoma Convention Center Gains 5G Connectivity