Wicker, Peters, Thune, and Klobuchar Introduce Bill to Improve Broadband Data Maps

June 12, 2019

WASHINGTON – Today U.S. Senator 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., introduced the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. The legislation would improve the accuracy of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband availability maps by strengthening the process by which broadband data is collected.

“The FCC’s broadband maps are inaccurate, disadvantaging every taxpayer and rural areas across the country, including many places in my home state,” said Wicker. “This legislation is an important step to ensure we get the most accurate coverage maps from the FCC and to help close the digital divide between rural and urban areas.”    

“Connecting a community to high-speed broadband opens new pathways for Michiganders to access educational resources, receive the health care they need or run a business,” said Peters. “By updating the FCC’s process for collecting broadband data, this bipartisan legislation aims to ensure we better assess broadband availability. With more accurate broadband maps, we can work to close the digital divide in rural and urban communities across Michigan.”

“Broadband maps are a critical tool in our effort to close the digital divide in rural areas like those throughout my home state of South Dakota, but they are only as good as the data that’s used to produce them,” said Thune. “Since data collection is a constantly evolving process, this bipartisan legislation would take the necessary steps to ensure the information that’s depended upon for accurate broadband mapping is as up to date and effective as possible. It’s important for Congress and federal agencies to stay at the forefront of this digital revolution, which is why I’m glad to support this bill, and I encourage my colleagues to do the same.”  

“Broadband is key to keeping rural America competitive in the 21st century and beyond,” said Klobuchar. “This legislation will help close the digital divide with granular data collection for more accurate mapping so that we can bring high-speed internet to every family, regardless of their zip code.” 

Highlights of the bill include: 

  • Requires the FCC to collect granular service availability data from wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers.
  • Requires strong parameters for service availability data collected from mobile broadband providers to ensure accuracy.
  • Asks the FCC to consider whether to collect verified coverage data from state, local, and tribal governments, as well as from other entities.
  • Creates 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 the process without making it overly burdensome on challengers.

For the full bill text, click here.

The Commerce Committee has jurisdiction over the FCC.