Broadband DATA Act Unanimously Passes Senate

December 20, 2019

The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act unanimously passed the Senate. The bill would:

  • Require the Federal Communications Commission 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 requires 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 willfully and knowingly, or recklessly submit materially inaccurate broadband data.
  • Require the FCC to use the newly-created maps when making new awards of broadband funding.

Emphasis added.

Broadband Mapping Bills Passed

Press Release  |  House Commerce Committee

Today, the House passed two important bills designed to fix our nation’s faulty broadband maps.  Accurately mapping the availability of broadband internet service is essential to promoting the deployment of high-speed service to all Americans, especially those in unserved and underserved areas.  We thank Committee members for working on these bipartisan bills, and we urge the Senate to act soon to ensure the reliability of broadbands maps so investments in broadband can have maximum impact.

H.R. 4229, the “Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act” or the “Broadband DATA Act,” was introduced by Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Bob Latta (R-OH).  This legislation requires the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to issue new rules to require the collection and dissemination of granular broadband availability data and to establish a process to verify the accuracy of such data, and more.

H.R. 4227, the “Mapping Accuracy Promotion Services Act” or the “MAPS Act,” was introduced by Reps. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) and Billy Long (R-MO).  This legislation specifies that it is unlawful for a person to willfully, knowingly, or recklessly submit inaccurate broadband service data.

House to Vote on Broadband Mapping, Supply Chain

— The House is scheduled to vote this week on its bipartisan compromises aimed at improving broadband mapping and securing the U.S. telecommunications supply chain (and helping rural wireless carriers rip and replace any existing gear from providers like Huawei that the administration has labeled a security risk). Measures on deck under suspension of the rules include the Broadband DATA Act, H.R. 4229 (116); the MAPS Act, H.R. 4227 (116); and the Secure and Trusted Communications Networks Act, H.R. 4998 (116).

— Senate and House staffers had previously agreed to bundle the mapping and security measures with their bicameral robocall deal, which is awaiting passage in the Senate, as MT reported last week. Senate Commerce Chairman Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) told John he wanted the Senate to advance a package addressing the three issues by year’s end, per that deal. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), speaking in his home state Friday, suggested that a “handful” of GOP holdouts exist to the Pallone-Thune TRACED Act robocall legislation and that he would, if needed, formally seek unanimous-consent passage (a process that would require a formal objection) to “flush out who supports ending these robocalls and who doesn’t.”

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

PEW Trust: State Broadband Policy Explorer — Laws governing high-speed internet access

The Pew Charitable Trusts’ state broadband policy explorer lets you learn how states are expanding access to broadband through laws. Categories in the tool include: broadband programs, competition and regulation, definitions, funding and financing, and infrastructure access.

As you choose categories, a 50-state map illustrates which states have adopted such laws.

The state broadband policy explorer includes state statutes related to broadband as of Jan. 1, 2019.

Link to California is HERE

 

RCRC: Broadband Update

On Wednesday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which oversees broadband policy, approved a multitude of bipartisan broadband and tech-related bills on a variety of topics, from broadband mapping and network security to freeing up spectrum. Two bills in particular were notable in regard to rural broadband.

The first of which was the “Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act” or the Broadband DATA Act (HR 4229), which would require the government to collect granular information about which areas in the U.S. have access to high-speed internet and which do not. The Senate Commerce Committee advanced its own version of the Broadband DATA Act earlier this year, meaning there is significant momentum to move the bill onto President Trump’s desk. The second significant bill was the “Mapping Accuracy Promotion Services Act” (MAPS Act) (HR 4227). This measure would bar anyone from “willfully, knowingly, or recklessly” submitting broadband internet access service coverage information or data to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for mapping purposes if it is untrue. This legislation was largely in response to an admission earlier this year by the FCC that its maps were inaccurate because one internet service provider gave the agency false information about its broadband coverage.

Last week, Senators Maggie Hassan (D-New Hampshire) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) introduced two broadband-related bills. The first was the Rural Broadband Financing Flexibility Act, led by Senator Capito, which would allow state and local governments to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance public-private rural broadband projects, and allow the federal government to assist state and local governments in bond payments. The second was the “Rural Broadband Investment Tax Credit Act”, led by Senator Hassan, which would create a federal tax credit that states and localities could direct toward rural broadband projects. Read a one-pager on the new bills that Senators Hassan and Capito introduced here.

 

Broadband Bills to Keep Tabs On

Sens. Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) last week offered a double dose of broadband : the Rural Broadband Investment Tax Credit Act, which would create a tax credit to help spur state and local broadband efforts, and the Rural Broadband Financing Flexibility Act, allowing state and local governments to use tax-exempt bonds to help stand up public-private rural broadband projects. House Judiciary Committee ranking member Doug Collins (R-Ga.), meanwhile, reintroduced his Gigabit Opportunity Act, H.R. 5082 (116), aimed at helping state governors offer tax incentives for providers offering fast internet service.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

RCRC: Broadband Update

This week, Senators Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) and Jacky Rosen (D-Nevada), both members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, announced the introduction of their Broadband Parity Act, bipartisan legislation that would bring all federal broadband programs to the current definition of what the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines as high-speed internet (currently 25/3 Mbps).

This bill would ensure that all communities receiving federal broadband support have access to internet service that is actually at “broadband” speeds.  Currently, there are over twenty federal broadband programs promoting access to fixed broadband service.  However, some programs define an area as “served” when service is at 25/3 Mbps speeds, while others define being served as having access to much slower 10/1 Mbps speeds.  This discrepancy in bandwidth speeds means that the federal government is often investing in inadequate broadband services.  This bill will remove such inconsistencies in service and improve broadband access for rural America.  Details on the bill can be accessed here.

Source: RCRC Newsletter

Senators Capito, Rosen Introduce Broadband Parity Act

Sen Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV)  |  Press Release  |  US Senate

Sens Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Jacky Rosen (D-NV) announced the introduction of their Broadband Parity Act, bipartisan legislation that would bring all federal broadband programs to the current definition of what the Federal Communications Commission defines as high-speed internet (currently 25/3 Mbps). Their bill would ensure that all communities and entities receiving federal broadband support have access to internet service that is actually at broadband speeds. Currently, there are over twenty federal broadband programs promoting access to fixed broadband service. However, each program follows its own set of guidelines for bandwidth speed. While some programs define an area as “served” when service is at 25/3 Mbps speeds, others define being served as having access to much slower 10/1 Mbps speeds. The discrepancy in bandwidth speeds means that the federal government is often investing in inadequate broadband services. The bill will remove inconsistencies in service and improve broadband access across the country, which is an essential step toward all Americans having equal access to healthcare, education, and economic opportunity.

“Access to high-speed internet is essential for economic growth, job creation, and an improved quality of life. Unfortunately, in states like West Virginia, many of our rural communities are being left behind as the digital divide grows,” Sen Capito said. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Rosen on this bill that will contribute to our ongoing efforts to close the digital divide by bringing parity on what defines high-speed broadband across all federal broadband programs.”

Source: Benton Institute Newsletter

Politico: Once More, With Broadband?

— FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks is calling on the commission to “conduct a data driven 10-year look-back on how our [broadband subsidy] program has effectively performed in bringing broadband to our remote areas,” as he put it during recent remarks before the Broadband Communities Conference: “I don’t want to wake up in 10 years and live in a world where the FCC does not have any better understanding of how and why we still find significant numbers of our communities left out of our digital world.” The Democratic commissioner said such an assessment would help the FCC develop its planned Rural Digital Opportunity Fund.

House Democrat Unveils Broadband Legislation

— Rep. Antonio Delgado (D-N.Y.) on Friday unveiled two bills aimed at improving broadband connectivity, one by requiring broadband providers to annually report actual speed data to the FCC and another to allow governments, cooperatives and small providers to use Agriculture Department grant funding for collecting data about locally available broadband service. “Our rural communities need broadband internet that is accessible, reliable, and matches their internet needs and these measures are important steps to closing the digital divide,” said Delgado, who recently held a field hearing with FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech