May 17 2019
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) – member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation – introduced the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA) with U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.). This legislation would improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps and better direct federal funds for broadband buildout. The bill would require broadband providers to report data in a way that more accurately reflects locations they actually serve – a change from current reporting requirements. This would create a new, improved National Broadband Map that is significantly more accurate and granular, as well as subject to an ongoing and multi-faceted challenge, validation and refinement process.
“In order for rural Kansas to compete in today’s digital economy, we need effective, efficient and reliable broadband,” said Sen. Moran. “This legislation will help make certain the FCC is working from an accurate and up-to-date broadband map as it continues its deployment efforts in rural America. I will work to address the communications needs facing our country, and I encourage my colleagues to support this important legislation.”
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are charged with allocating billions of dollars each year to ensure that broadband coverage gaps are closed. However, there is broad bipartisan consensus that the data the FCC collects is not sufficiently accurate or granular to pinpoint these gaps or guide decision-making on where funds should be directed to support broadband buildout.
The BDIA would require broadband providers to report data to create an improved National Broadband Map that is significantly more accurate and granular, as well as subject to an ongoing and multi-faceted challenge, validation and refinement process. 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.
This legislation is supported by a broad range of groups and organizations, including NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, the American Farm Bureau Federation, the Microsoft Corporation, the Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA).
Building on the many lessons learned from past state and federal data collection and mapping efforts, the Broadband Data Improvement Act would comprehensively improve the National Broadband Map in the following key ways:
- Granular Service Availability Data – Requires broadband providers to report service availability by submitting GIS shape files that indicate actual network coverage, completely updating or replacing the current Form 477 process.
- Three-pronged Data Validation Process –
- The collection of public feedback regarding the accuracy of the map, obtained via a new feedback tool that will be integrated into the online mapping platform.
- The acquisition of third-party commercial datasets on broadband availability that are analyzed and compared against provider-reported data.
- Targeted on-the-ground field validation of services in areas where public feedback and third-party data suggest the map is incorrect.
- Periodic Challenge Process – Requires the establishment of an ongoing, efficient and scheduled process by which the public and broadband service providers may challenge the map, and through which the FCC analyzes and resolves any challenges to update the map accordingly.
- Federal Funding Programs Guidance and Broadband Investments Tracking – Requires the National Broadband Map to be utilized by federal agencies to identify areas that remain unserved and track where awarded funds have actually resulted in broadband buildout.
- Data Submission Assistance to Small Providers – Minimizes the burden on smaller service providers that may not have GIS capabilities by providing data submission assistance to ensure the information they report is as accurate as possible.
Full text of the legislation can be found here.
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