MANCHIN: COMMERCE MAPPING BILL GOOD FIRST STEP BUT MORE NEEDS TO BE DONE
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) today praised the passage of the Broadband DATA (Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability) Act (S. 1822) out of the Senate Commerce Committee but highlighted the need for provisions from his bill, the Map Improvement Act (S.1485), that provide funding and technical assistance to state and local governments. Of the 89,004 local governments, 573 tribes, and 50 states that were automatically eligible to participate in the Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) Challenge Process, only 62 or .07% even had the resources they needed to start the process. Throughout the entire 8 month challenge window, only 21 entities – one of which was Senator Joe Manchin – successfully submitted valid challenges.
“Last year, I became the only member of congress to challenge a federal broadband coverage map when I participated in the MF-II challenge Process. While the challenge process had its flaws, it should be looked at the beginning of a new, collaborative mapping process that encourages people to participate. That’s why I was thrilled to see provisions from my bill included in Senator Wicker’s mapping bill that passed the Commerce Committee today. Specifically, I have long pressed the FCC to establish a user-friendly challenge process that would allow consumers and state and local governments to be a part of the mapping process, and I am pleased to report that this bill will set that process in motion. However, as someone who has actually gone through this process and knows first-hand what hurdles made this process so difficult in the first place, I know that a few workshops will not be enough to get our local officials engaged. They need real money and technical assistance to do the job right, and I’m committed to making sure they get it,” Senator Manchin said.
Below is a full list of Senator Manchin’s efforts to address inaccurate broadband coverage maps and data:
October 11, 2016: In 2015, the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband coverage maps indicated that 99.9% of Americans had wireless coverage. In order to prove these figures were inaccurate, Senator Manchin brings then-Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler to West Virginia to see first-hand why his agency was wrong.
February 16, 2017: Senator Manchin and Senator Wicker meet with Chairman Pai to discuss the importance of a robust, reliable, and standardized data collection and challenge process.
April 12, 2017: Senator Manchin and Senator Wicker sent a letter to Chairman Pai applauding the creation of the Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force and urging the FCC to ensure that accurate maps guide the upcoming auctions.
May 11, 2017: Senator Manchin and Senator Wicker introduce the Rural Wireless Access Act which would require the FCC to collect wireless broadband coverage data that is valid, consistent, and robust.
August 3, 2017: FCC votes on Mobility Fund Order to begin the process of providing $4.53 billion over ten years to expand mobile broadband deployment.
February 27, 2018: FCC releases their Initial Eligible Areas Map for Mobility Fund Phase II.
March 29, 2018: Senator Manchin sends a letter to Chairman Pai encouraging the FCC to work with state and local governments on the Mobility Fund II Map Challenge Process to ensure the map reflects the actual real world experience of West Virginians.
April 10, 2018: The FCC responds to Senator Manchin’s request that they provide support to state and local governments by releasing a new map that shows areas where challenges have the best likelihood of success.
May 10, 2018: Senator Manchin requests a waiver from the FCC to participate in the Mobility Fund Phase II Challenge Process and prove their coverage map was inaccurate
May 18, 2018: Senator Manchin hosts the FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau’s Associate Chief of Competition and Infrastructure Policy Division, Michael Janson for an FCC Mobility Fund II Challenge Process presentation in West Virginia to help stakeholders better understand the challenge process and the opportunities they have to improve the accuracy of the eligibility map.
May 25, 2018: Senator Manchin receives waiver from the FCC to participate in the Mobility Fund Phase II Challenge Process.
June 5, 2018: Senator Manchin hosts a Facebook Live with FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel and Aaron Cox, Chairman of the Hampshire County Broadband Initiative Council to discuss broadband access in West Virginia, Mobility Fund II and how West Virginians could challenge the FCC’s map.
November 26, 2018: Senator Manchin becomes only Member of Congress to formally challenge a federal broadband coverage map when he submitted a successful challenge to the Mobility Fund Phase II Initial Eligible Areas Map.
February 12, 2019: Senator Manchin announces that West Virginia will be included in the new National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) initiative that will help make sure the national broadband availability map is accurate. This came after he led the effort to secure the language the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2018 that authorized this pilot program.
February 14, 2019: Senator Manchin leads a bipartisan letter to the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai urging him to create a public feedback mechanism to allow consumers and states an opportunity to participate in the mapping process.
May 15, 2019: Senator Manchin introduces the Map Improvement Act of 2019 (S. 1485).
July 18, 2019: Senator Manchin sends Chairman Pai the results of speed tests his staff took in Cabins, WV that showed internet speeds were well below the FCC’s definition of broadband and the advertised speed they were given by their provider. Senator Manchin also promised to continue sending results from West Virginians until the FCC establishes a user-friendly public feedback mechanism to allow West Virginians to help validate the FCC’s coverage data.
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