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July 30, 2019

King Backing Bill to Improve Broadband Data Maps

Bipartisan Broadband DATA Act is Senator King’s latest push to improve broadband access for rural Maine, nationwide

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Angus King (I-Maine), co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, announced his cosponsorship of the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which will increase the accuracy of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband availability maps by improving the process by which broadband data is collected.

“One of my top priorities in Washington is expanding broadband access to rural Maine communities – but if we don’t know exactly which communities don’t have access to reliable high-speed broadband, we won’t know where to make investments,” said Senator King. “We need to improve the FCC’s method of data collection, so rural communities in need aren’t left behind in an increasingly digital world. This bipartisan bill will help make sure we have the right tools to close the digital divide, and bring all of the internet’s opportunities to rural Americans.”

Specifically, the Broadband DATA Act:

  • Requires the FCC to collect highly detailed service availability data from wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers.
  • Requires strong parameters for service availability data collected from mobile broadband providers to ensure accuracy.
  • Asks the FCC to consider whether to collect verified coverage data from state, local, and tribal governments, as well as from other entities.
  • Creates a process for consumers, state, local, 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.

As a co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, Senator King has been a strong advocate for improved broadband mapping data. Cosponsoring the DATA Act is his latest effort to improve the accuracy of FCC broadband maps.  In September 2018, Senator King wrote a letter to the USDA seeking specific provisions in the ReConnect broadband pilot program, including acquiring up-to-date broadband mapping data. USDA incorporated these provisions in its regulations for the program that it issued in December 2018. Senator King also renewed his push for up-to-date broadband maps in a February 2019 letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, which was co-signed by a bipartisan group of 10 Senators.

Digital connectivity in rural regions is a key priority of Senator King’s economic agenda to help modernize and grow Maine’s rural economy, support innovation and create jobs. In May, Senators King and Capito reintroduced legislation to measure the economic impact of broadband so state and federal policymakers can understand the return they will receive on any investments in digital infrastructure. The legislation had previously passed the Senate in December, but was not taken up by the House. In April, Senator King joined his colleagues to introduce legislation to promote “digital equity” so Americans of all background can have equal access to the opportunities created by the internet.

In addition to Senator King, the legislation is cosponsored by U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Todd Young (R-Ind.), Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Miss.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska).  

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