Between negotiations on a bailout of the tanking mortgage-banking businesses, the Senate passed the Broadband Data Improvement Act Friday, which requires 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 was pushed by Sen. Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), chairman of the Senate Energy & Commerce Committee.
“The federal government has a responsibility to ensure the continued rollout of broadband access, as well as the successful deployment of the next generation of broadband technology,” Inouye said Friday. “But as I have said before, we cannot manage what we do not measure.”
The FCC already started trying to better measure the state of broadband.
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.