WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, together with Sens. Gary Peters, D-Mich., John Thune, R-S.D., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., released the following statements after the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act unanimously passed the Senate:
“Policymakers need to have accurate maps that tell us where broadband is available and where it is not in order to close the digital divide between rural and urban America,” said Wicker. “This bill would be an important step for collecting more precise data to improve the FCC’s flawed maps that waste resources and stifle economic development opportunities. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for working with me on this important issue, and I urge the House to take up and pass the Broadband DATA Act."
“From helping small businesses connect with their customers to providing students the resources they need to succeed, access to high-speed broadband is critical to countless communities across Michigan,” said Senator Peters. “I am pleased that this bill, which will to more accurately track broadband availability has passed the Senate, and I look forward to continue working to get this bill to into law so that we can work to close the digital divide in rural and urban communities across Michigan.”
“I’m glad to see our bipartisan broadband mapping bill pass the Senate today,” said Thune. “Reliable broadband maps are an especially important tool to close the digital divide in rural areas, like much of South Dakota, but without accurate data, the mapping isn’t as effective. With this legislation, the FCC will be required to update its broadband maps ensuring more South Dakotans will be connected to next-generation broadband services, and I thank Chairman Wicker for his leadership on this effort.”
“This is an important step in helping the kids that grow up in rural America to be able to live in rural America,” Klobuchar said. “When rural Americans have access to the infrastructure needed to support improving access to broadband then we keep rural America competitive in the 21st century and beyond. If we want to bridge the urban-rural divide, we have to close the digital divide and this legislation helps with granular data collection for more accurate mapping so that we can bring high-speed internet to every family, regardless of their zip code.”
The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act would:
- Require the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to collect granular service availability data from wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers.
- Set strong parameters for service availability data collected from mobile broadband providers to ensure accuracy.
- Permit the FCC to consider whether to collect verified coverage data from state, local, and tribal governments, as well as from other entities.
- Create a process for consumers; state, local, and tribal governments; and other groups to challenge FCC maps with their own data and requires the FCC to determine how to structure that process without making it overly burdensome on challengers.
- Establish a crowdsourcing process that allows the public to participate in data collection.
- Strengthen enforcement against providers that willfully and knowingly, or recklessly submit materially inaccurate broadband data.
- Require the FCC to use the newly-created maps when making new awards of broadband funding.
For the full bill text, click here.
The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the FCC.