The recent approval by the House of Representatives of two bills to improve the Federal government’s efforts to assemble and maintain accurate nationwide broadband service maps is adding weight to an ongoing push by the Federal Communications Commission to do the same in order to direct funding and other regulatory help to bringing more broadband options to underserved areas.
On the legislative front, the House approved two bills aimed at boosting the national broadband service map effort.
The first was the approval by voice vote on Dec. 16 of the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act (Broadband Data Act) (H.R. 4229), that would require the FCC to make new rules to require the collection and dissemination of more granular broadband service availability, and to establish processes to verify that data.
The second, also approved by the House Dec. 16 on a voice vote, is the Mapping Accuracy Promotes Services (MAPS) Act (H.R. 4227), that would make it a crime to submit inaccurate broadband coverage data to the FCC.
Whether either House bill becomes law is uncertain. The Broadband Data Act has a Senate companion bill, while the MAPS Act does not.
Both measures would support ongoing action at the FCC to accomplish roughly the same goals. The Commission in August voted to approve a variety of reports, orders, and notice of proposed rulemaking that would improve mapping of fixed broadband service availability in the U.S.
The accuracy of U.S. broadband service maps has long been prominent as an issue of concern among lawmakers, especially those whose states include rural areas that typically have not been as well served with advanced communications services that are more economical for providers to build out in more densely populated areas.