ICYMI: Senate Passes Manchin Proposals To Fix Broadband Coverage Maps
Washington, D.C. – Last month, the Senate passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Act (the “Broadband DATA Act”) which will help to fix the country’s faulty broadband coverage maps. This bill contains several key provisions that came directly from Senator Manchin’s efforts as well as his bill, the Map Improvement Act of 2019. Read the full text of the bill here.
“I am thrilled the Senate passed the Broadband DATA Act. This bill is a significant step toward fixing our country’s and West Virginia’s incorrect broadband maps. As the only Member of Congress to formally challenge a federal broadband coverage map through the FCC’s Mobility Fund Phase II challenge process last year, I know first-hand that broadband coverage has been sorely misrepresented by the FCC through their inconsistent mapping practices. In December of 2018, the FCC stated that West Virginia has mobile broadband coverage in 95% of the state, which we know is just simply not true because they only used provider input, not customer input. West Virginians can tell you where there is and isn’t coverage throughout the state and this bill will establish standards for collecting data to ensure that everyone’s coverage is accurately represented and allow the public be a part of this process,” said Senator Manchin.
The following provisions of the Broadband DATA Act came directly from Senator Manchin’s work:
Verified Data Collection
- Requires the FCC to establish a process through which they can collect verified data for use in coverage maps from state and local government entities like the Broadband Enhancement Council in West Virginia.
- Requires the FCC to establish a user-friendly challenge process through which consumers, State, Local, and Tribal governmental entities, and other entities may submit coverage data to the FCC to challenge the accuracy of the FCC’s coverage maps and any information submitted by a provider regarding the availability of broadband internet access service.
- Ensures that the FCC must consider the following when establishing their user-friendly challenge process:
- lessons learned from the Mobility Fund II Challenge Process;
- the need for user-friendly challenge submission formats that will promote participation; and
- providing challenge data in both GIS and non-GIS formats
- Ensures the FCC will provide technical assistance to State, local, and Tribal Governmental Entities and consumers throughout the challenge process (including detailed tutorials, webinars, and designated staff)
- Requires the FCC to develop a crowdsourcing process through which consumers may submit specific information about the deployment and availability of broadband internet access service that can be used to verify and supplement broadband coverage maps.
- Requires the FCC to coordinate with the U.S Postal Service and other Federal agencies that operate delivery fleets to facilitate the collection and submission of data to help improve broadband coverage maps, an idea Senator Manchin introduced Map Improvement Act and has been pushing the FCC to do since 2015.
Senator Manchin has sent 147 letters from 33 counties to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to highlight speed test results he received from West Virginians who do not have access to reliable broadband service. Until the FCC establishes a user-friendly public feedback mechanism to allow West Virginians to help validate the FCC’s coverage data, Manchin will continue to send speed test results to the FCC. If you would like Manchin to send your own speed test results to the Federal Communications Commission, email a screenshot of your speed test (if possible) along with the following information to firstname.lastname@example.org:
- The name of the speed testing application used (e.g., Ookla, FCC speed test application, NACo’s TestIT application, WV Broadband Enhancement Council’s speed test, etc.)
- The type of device used to take a speed test (e.g., Apple iPhone 8, Samsung Galaxy, laptop etc.)
- Type of broadband service (fixed or mobile)
- Name of provider
- Address of area tested
- Latitude and longitude (if available)
- A brief description of the challenges you have experienced due to your lack of broadband service.
Or, if you are unable to email this information due to lack of service, send the information above to: Sen. Joe Manchin III, 306 Hart Senate Office Building, Washington, DC 20510.
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