The Senate Commerce Committee has unanimously passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, a bill that would try to improve the data the government uses to establish where broadband is and isn't via broadband availability maps.
Specifically, the bill:
1. "Requires the FCC to collect granular service availability data from wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers.
2. "Requires strong parameters for service availability data collected from mobile broadband providers to ensure accuracy.
3. "Asks the FCC to consider whether to collect verified coverage data from state, local, and tribal governments, as well as from other entities.
4. "Creates 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 the process without making it overly burdensome on challengers."
The bill tracks with a proposal from USTelecom about improving broadband mapping.
“Nearly four months after launching our mapping pilot program, the Senate Commerce Committee passed a plan mandating the adoption of the new USTelecom methodology to locate broadband serviceable locations," said USTelecom president Jonathan Spalter. "This is important progress. Senators on both sides of the aisle know that fixing our maps goes hand in hand with ensuring federal resources reach communities in their states without access to broadband as quickly and efficiently as possible. This is a big win for the cause of rural broadband and for good public policy.”
The FCC has not yet decided exactly how to collect new data, but has offered up a proposal that would include more granular data and public vetting of the results.