May 15, 2019

Manchin, Gardner Introduce Bipartisan Bill To Improve Broadband Coverage Maps

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Cory Gardner (R-CO), introduced the Map Improvement Act of 2019 to ensure that federal funding for broadband coverage expansion goes to the places where it is most needed. States like West Virginia and Colorado rely on federal funding for broadband improvements, and in order to achieve this, we need accurate data that correctly depicts the coverage people are actually experiencing. Unfortunately, the existing system overstates coverage in rural areas, and broadband mapping reforms are vital to closing the coverage gap. In order to secure additional funding for states that lack adequate coverage, the legislation will establish a standardized methodology for collecting and mapping fixed and mobile broadband coverage in a consistent and robust manner, require the FCC to establish a validated public feedback mechanism, establish the FCC as the lead federal agency for broadband mapping by creating an Office of Broadband Data Collection and Mapping within the FCC and create a technical assistance program within NTIA that will help state and local entities like regional planning and development councils acquire and utilize GIS to assist with mapping their own broadband coverage and validate the FCC’s data.

“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 wireless 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 current wireless broadband coverage maps are inadequate and need to be improved,” said Senator Gardner. “Any Coloradan with a wireless device could look at a coverage map and point out exactly where the gaps should be. This bipartisan bill will allow the FCC to implement a better approach and allow for more public input in the mapping process.”

To view the full bill text click here.