Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden today joined with 16 colleagues in a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging that federal regulators ensure state, local, and tribal governments are included in efforts to update nationwide broadband maps.
Following decades-long use of inaccurate data maps that denied broadband funding to eligible communities, Congress charged the FCC with creating new maps in 2020 to accurately depict the current state of broadband access in our nation. These maps are a crucial tool in the FCC’s work to expand broadband to underserved and unserved communities across the country, and accurate mapping will help ensure that federal funds reach the areas that need it most. Incorporating feedback from state, local, and tribal governments will provide the FCC with more accurate, reliable, and up-to-date data.
“As the FCC considers how to best design a new broadband mapping data collection system, we strongly urge you to incorporate the voices of state, local and tribal governments and provide them with an opportunity to meaningfully challenge the data filed by internet service providers (ISPs),” the senators wrote Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Many state and local governments know exactly who do and do not have access to reliable high-speed broadband within their communities.”
“Improved and accurate national maps with precise information will allow policymakers to make strategic broadband investments to finally close the digital divide and the homework gap, expand telemedicine, improve economic and health outcomes for communities nationwide, and help our country recover from the coronavirus pandemic,” they wrote. “Accurate mapping cannot be completed without insight from state and local officials, many of whom have created databases of their broadband capacity and needs and can help fill in valuable gaps. We urge the FCC to work with local, state and tribal entities to create a mechanism to allow them to challenge inaccurate broadband data.”
In addition to Wyden, the letter led by U.S. Sens. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) was signed by U.S. Sens. Angus King (I-Maine), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Raphael Warnock (D-Ga.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Patty Murray (D-Wash.).
Wyden also this week urged the FCC to make rural broadband a priority in 2021, expanding internet access to communities throughout Oregon and nationwide.
The full text of today’s letter is here.
A web version of this release is here.