Acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel this morning announced the formation of a new Broadband Data Task Force to manage the implementation of new mapping and data-gathering processes and finding the precise locations where broadband service is available today. FCC attorney Jean Kiddoo will lead the task force.
Kiddoo “has a history pulling off complicated projects and making it look easy. I know she’ll do a great job and I will make sure this agency provides her with every resource to do so,” said Rosenworcel (pictured lower left) this morning during her first monthly agenda meeting since becoming acting chairwoman.
The task force’s charge is to assemble a group of specialized teams made up of FCC staffers. “A large team of experts from offices and bureaus across the entire Commission are already hard at work, and the many difficult and interdisciplinary tasks we need to complete are already well underway,” Kiddoo said during today’s meeting.
Congress appropriated the long-awaited $95 million in funding for the mapping project late last year in its COVID-19 relief and omnibus funding bill. The project will replace the current system of mapping broadband service areas through internet providers’ regular six-month reports in FCC Form 477. More up-to-date technology, such as crowdsourcing and polygon mapping, are to pinpoint unserved areas more precisely.
Important future broadband funding initiatives are dependent on the new data before they can go forward, including the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund Phase II and 5G Fund reverse auctions. Commissioner Brendan Carr (pictured upper left) asked how long it will take to complete the mapping project. “Roughly do we think it’s six months, one year, 18 months? Is there a landing zone that we are targeting?” he asked.
Kiddoo said the task force currently is in the process of sending Requests for Proposal and finding third-party experts to participate in the project. “I think based on my experience with developing other complex systems at the Commission and how difficult it is to do these kinds of very difficult data gatherings, it's going to take a while,” she said. “I think we are talking probably next year. But that is a guess.”
Today’s meeting was the FCC’s first under its current four-member configuration. Also pictured are Commissioner Geoffrey Starks (above center); Commissioner Nathan Simington (right), and FCC Secretary Marlene Dortch (lower center).
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