Completed Maps Will ‘Absolutely’ Be Available This Fall, FCC’s Rosenworcel Says

‘It is all systems go,’ the chairwoman said at a House Energy and Commerce hearing Thursday.

Completed Maps Will ‘Absolutely’ Be Available This Fall, FCC’s Rosenworcel Says
Photo of FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, far left, and Commissioners Brendan Carr and Nathan Simington preparing for the FCC Oversight Hearing, by Ashlan Gruwell

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2022 – The chair of the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday that the improved broadband maps needed to adequately disburse billions in federal infrastructure dollars will come this fall.

During a House Energy and Commerce Committee Oversight hearing Thursday, Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said, “Absolutely, yes. We will have [complete] maps in the fall.”

Earlier this year, Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo told the Senate appropriations committee that, after speaking with the FCC, the better broadband maps should be expected in the summer. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration, an agency of Commerce, will be delivering $42.5 billion from the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act for broadband infrastructure, but the accurate maps are needed. It was a timeline that even former FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly was skeptical about.

Rosenworcel also shared the process, so far, of creating these maps, saying that the agency has brought in broadband architects, new systems to handle the data, have beta tested those systems, and set up a contract for a broadband location fabric. Earlier this month, a government watchdog denied a challenge to an FCC pick to build the fabric, paving the way for CostQuest to complete the work.

Rosenworcel also pointed to a late June date the agency set last month from which internet service providers will be able to submit their data to help form the maps.

“Now, it is all systems go,” she said.

While the maps will be ready in the fall, they will still have to be released to the states for their input on accuracy, and the FCC will then do any applicable revisions before they are finalized, Rosenworcel said.

Some states have become impatient with the FCC and have begun to collect their own data so they can generate their own maps. Without broadband maps, funding cannot be dispersed, and states cannot begin to improve their infrastructure.

The committee also heard that the FCC will need its fifth commissioner approved, as Gigi Sohn, President Joe Biden’s pick as party tie-breaker on the agency, has yet to be approved by the Senate.

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