June 02, 2021

Manchin: New Reports, More Speed Tests Prove West Virginia Needs Corrected Broadband Coverage Maps Now

Charleston, WV – Today, U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) submitted another group of speed tests from West Virginians to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to assist in efforts to quickly update the broadband coverage maps that dictate federal funding for broadband deployment for West Virginians and Americans without coverage. Over 2,400 West Virginians have submitted speed tests to Senator Manchin.
The Senator said in part, “After six years, one formal challenge process, and over 2,400 speed tests from West Virginians, I am heartened to see the FCC under your leadership finally waking up and working actively to fix the maps through the newly minted Broadband Data Task Force. I commend you on your immediate actions and progress to date in moving forward on such a massively complex task. As you continue to work toward establishing a user-friendly process for people to submit this data directly to the FCC, I will continue to encourage West Virginians to remain an active part of the process and submit speed test data to my office which I will share with you and the Broadband Data Task Force to help inform your decision-making.”
In his letter, Senator Manchin referenced three new reports which highlight the need for correct coverage maps in order to expand broadband coverage to West Virginians and Americans in need.
The Competitive Carriers Association (CCA) released a report that found “pervasive errors” in the FCC’s data which will result extremely wealthy, urban, and obviously served areas, including Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, MIT’s campus in Cambridge, and Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, receiving subsidies through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF).
BroadbandNow released a report last week estimating that West Virginia has the highest error rate in FCC over-reporting in the country at 35.89%. This means that nearly 600,000 West Virginians – who still don’t have adequate service – were ineligible to even apply for assistance through RDOF.
High Speed Internet analyzed the FCC data for the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the United States and found that Charleston, the capital of West Virginia and the largest city in the state, has the slowest average speeds of any metropolitan area in the nation.
The Senator continued, “It is irresponsible for us to be sending out money for broadband without fixing the maps first, which is why I repeatedly asked then-Chairman Ajit Pai to postpone the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) to fix the maps before spending as much as $20 billion incorrectly. Unfortunately, he failed to heed my warning, arguing that we didn’t need updated maps because the FCC knew with certainty the areas that were currently unserved. Sadly, what was billed as the single biggest step yet to close the digital divide, is looking more and more like a misstep.”

Senator Manchin’s letter can be read in full here.

A timeline of Senator Manchin’s efforts to expand broadband can be found here.