President Bush Friday signed the Broadband Data Improvement Act into law, according to a top staffer on the Senate Commerce Committee.
The bill, which had been pushed by Senate Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), would require the Federal Communications Commission to report on broadband deployment annually rather than periodically.
In addition, the bill: 1) adds a question on the Census Bureau survey about dial-up versus broadband Internet use; 2) asks the Government Accountability Office to come up with information that allows consumers to compare broadband-connection costs and capabilities and the government to compare its broadband penetration with other countries; 3) creates a study of the impact of broadband speeds on small business; and 4) provides grants to identify barriers to broadband adoption.
The bill is in addition to the FCC's own order, adopted in June, to refine and expand its broadband-data collection. That included creating new categories of upload and download speeds to better identify the quality of the service being provided -- how much of that service can support advanced applications like high-resolution video, for example. It also required reporting from wireless operators with subscribers that can browse the Net with their phones and other devices, and it will ask voice-over-Internet-protocol companies to report their customers, as well.