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Funding for Broadband Mapping Draws Bipartisan Support

Randy Sukow

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A repeated complaint that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has lodged through most of 2020 is that while everybody in Washington, DC, and beyond seems to be eager to improve the Commission’s broadband mapping data-gathering process to replace the Commission’s flawed Form 477 data, Congress has so far been unwilling to pay for it. New technologies promise to identify all the structures in a given area where carriers potentially deploy broadband service. But not without the money.

Earlier this year, Congress enacted the Broadband Data Act requiring the Commission to use geocoding techniques to locate where broadband service exists or does not exist, but failed to pass an appropriation to pay for the those changes. But this week, there appears to be some hope for movement as two powerful members of Congress said they favor moving ahead with funding, according to a report today from insider newsletter Communications Daily.

“For years, the FCC’s maps have overstated broadband coverage … claiming that Mississippi had 98 percent mobile broadband coverage, a ridiculous claim,” said Senate Commerce Committee Roger Wicker (R-MS, pictured left) said during a  Competitive Carriers Association virtual conference, ComDaily reports. “The FCC says it needs $65 million to implement this change, and I’m working with the Appropriations Committee to make sure sufficient funding is provided.”

At the same virtual conference, Wicker’s Commerce Committee counterpart in the House, Frank Pallone (D-NJ, pictured right) made a similar statement. “There are few things on our committee that unite Republicans and Democrats in the way that the broadband mapping bill does,” he said.

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