Broadband Coverage Maps Must be More Accurate, Tester & Bipartisan Group of Senators Tell Federal Communications Commission

Letter follows introduction of legislation laying out path to more granular mapping, including crowdsourcing verification

(U.S. Senate) – U.S. Senators Jon Tester (D-Mont), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Brian Schatz (D- Hawaii), and Jerry Moran (R-Kan)-all members of the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee-are urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take specific, concrete steps to improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps.

The Senators’ letter to Chairman Ajit Pai encourages the FCC to look at their legislative proposals that include reforms requiring wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers to submit data that is more granular and precise.

“Precise, granular, and accurate data is essential to determining which parts of the country remain unserved and where to more efficiently target broadband deployment funding,” the Senators wrote. “Improved data is essential for Congress and the Commission to identify where adequate broadband service is and is not, and how to avoid subsidizing overbuilding of existing networks.”

“[The proposals Congress has already introduced] would provide the FCC with an effective framework to replace its flawed census block-based system,” the letter continues. “We appreciate the FCC’s consideration of our suggestions for ways to improve its broadband data collection and reporting initiative, and look forward to working with you to close the digital divide.”

Senators Tester, Capito, Schatz, and Moran recently introduced the Broadband Data Improvement Act of 2019 to require that broadband providers report data to create an improved National Broadband Map that is significantly more accurate, and subject to ongoing challenges. Accurate and granular data will enable federal agencies to target funding to the areas that need it the most, close the remaining coverage gaps, and ensure accountability and transparency.

As part of his #Connect MT initiative, Tester has consistently demanded that the FCC improve broadband mapping and rural broadband. At a June Commerce Committee hearing, he grilled Chairman Pai on the agency’s failure to expand rural broadband. Last year, his Improving Rural Call Quality Act was signed into law, helping to increase call reliability and completion in rural America.

The full letter text is available HERE.