Two bills introduced in the House aim to improve the accuracy of the oft-maligned Federal Communications Commission (FCC) broadband availability map by changing reporting requirements and allowing community groups access to funds to do their own reporting.
Rep. Antonio Delgado, D-N.Y., introduced the Broadband Speed Act (H.R. 4641) and the Community Broadband Mapping Act (H.R. 4642) on October 11 to address the complaints around existing data on available internet speeds across the country, especially in smaller and rural communities.
The Broadband Speed Act would require internet service providers to report the speeds that they are capable of providing at that moment, as compared to the current criteria of potential speeds within seven to ten business days. The bill would also require FCC funding only support projects at 100 megabits per second or higher to future-proof its investments.
“This legislative package will require more accurate data from internet service providers and ensure that new broadband service funded through the FCC will deliver internet at speeds required for the modern era,” said Delgado in a press release.
The Community Broadband Mapping Act would enable organizations like local governments, community groups, electric cooperatives, and small internet providers to apply for funds from broadband programs run by the Department of Agriculture’s Rural Utility Service. Groups could use these funds to conduct their own broadband mapping and use the information to dispute the FCC’s map.
“This legislation will also allow local governments and concerned citizens to challenge flawed FCC maps by gathering their own data—empowering them to figure out where there are coverage gaps,” said Delgado.
The bills are supported by Internet and Television Association, and come after a field hearing in Delgado’s district on the subject. Both bills will go to the House Commerce Committee, and the Community Broadband Mapping Act will go before the House Agriculture Committee as well.