— Senate Commerce lawmakers and telecom industry witnesses were unified during a Thursday hearing in slamming the accuracy of the FCC broadband mapping that will dictate eligibility for billions of dollars of Mobility Fund subsidies intended to help companies build out wireless service. The FCC had extended the time period for challenging the map accuracy, but critics are still unhappy. U.S. Cellular Vice President Grant Spellmeyer called the maps “nowhere near accurate” and said his company will run out of time before challenging as much as it would like. “It’s going to crack open a digital divide that’s far worse than what we’ve seen previously,” he warned, suggesting the FCC be “directed to stand down” and potentially hand over the responsibility to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration.
— Lawmakers echoed the telecom industry anger. “Clearly the amount of resources that’s expended trying to get information that isn’t very accurate, is not going to help anybody in the long run,” Thune told John after the hearing. “They certainly make a very compelling argument that there’s a better way to do this.” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said many lawmakers still “don’t have the comfort level” in the accuracy of the maps determining subsidies. Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) complained that the current set-up lets the government shift the burden to others to fact-check the maps’ accuracy.
— The FCC wasn’t on deck to testify, but an agency spokesperson defended its efforts, saying the commission is “working with a number of members of Congress to ensure that we get as much input into the map as possible and move forward” with the Mobility Fund subsidy auction. The current system “doesn’t make sense” and is “often providing duplicative subsidies to more than one carrier to serve the same area while many areas without service don’t receive any money,” the spokesperson added.
Source: POLITICO Morning Tech
These folks have yet to experience the real anger. The Gold Country Broadband Consortia held a series of public meeting and those citizens who requested service based on the broadband maps and were turned down by the telcos were very angry, livid would be a more accurate description. Their expectations were raised by the government maps, based on data provided by the telcos, only to have their desire for broadband to be dashed by the very telcos that provide the erroneous information in the first place. For these citizens, the government was not doing their job, and it appears there is still a problem.
I like the irony of this mapping problem. The telecom industry is angry about the accuracy of the government maps, when the maps were based on the information they provided.