WASHINGTON – 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., today released the following statements upon the unanimous Senate passage of S.1822, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which will now move to the President’s desk. The legislation will improve the accuracy of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband availability maps by strengthening the process by which broadband data is collected.
“Flawed broadband maps are a huge problem for rural and underserved communities, including many in Mississippi,” said Wicker. “Accurate maps will pave the way for more Americans to access high-speed broadband and the economic opportunities that come with it. I expect the FCC and other federal agencies to use these new maps when awarding funding in future broadband programs. I thank my colleagues for their efforts to help close the digital divide, and I am glad this bill will now become law.”
“From providing students the resources they need to succeed to helping small businesses connect with their customers, access to high-speed broadband is critical to families and communities across Michigan,” said Peters. “I am pleased that this bipartisan bill will soon be law and allow us to more accurately track broadband availability and help close the digital divide in rural and urban communities across Michigan.”
“In today’s ever-changing technological world, it’s more important than ever that folks in rural areas have access to high-speed broadband,” said Thune. “This bipartisan legislation would help deliver those broadband services to South Dakotans who need it most.”
“Broadband is key to keeping rural America competitive in the 21st century and beyond,” said Klobuchar. “Now that the Broadband DATA Act has passed the House and Senate and is headed to the President’s desk, we are one step closer to closing the digital divide. This bill will improve the broadband data collection process to create more accurate maps so that we can bring high-speed internet to every family, regardless of their zip code.”
The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act will:
- Require the 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 require 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 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 exercises jurisdiction over the FCC.