Geoffrey Starks, FCC Commissioner at NextGov.com
With an estimated 2.5 billion plus gigabytes of data created every day, people, businesses, governments and organizations of every kind are generating and accessing more information than ever before. This information avalanche creates challenges and opportunities. For example, good data put to good use is revolutionizing healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, and retail. But bad data poorly analyzed can be catastrophic for policymaking. It’s time for the FCC to step into the future by using artificial intelligence tools to address the continuing lack of affordable broadband to many communities—an increasingly entrenched problem of “internet inequality,” which impacts our economy and democracy and threatens the future global competitiveness of our country.
Congress has charged the Federal Communications Commission with ensuring that every American has access to affordable high-speed internet service. To do so, we must review massive amounts of internet service provider data so we know where broadband is and is not deployed. This allows us to target federal dollars and drive further deployment as efficiently as possible. There is a lot of money at stake. The FCC’s broadband support programs distribute over $9 billion dollars annually. Achieving an accurate understanding of broadband deployment has proven to be challenging for the Commission, which utilizes a process that overstates broadband availability and has failed to catch egregiously flawed data submissions. The FCC’s data is currently not granular or accurate enough to capture the actual number of homes or businesses that truly have connectivity.
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