WASHINGTON – Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen to expand access to broadband in rural and underserved communities in New Hampshire passed the Senate yesterday.
The bipartisan Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act would require that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) improve its broadband coverage maps by collecting and considering more-detailed coverage data from service providers. The FCC’s coverage maps determine what areas are eligible for federal funds targeted to communities that lack access to reliable mobile broadband service. Additionally, the bill calls for the FCC to biannually update its broadband data maps, as well as develop a process for stakeholders to challenge the maps’ accuracy.
“Driving around New Hampshire, I’ve found plenty of places where the FCC claims there is coverage, but I can’t get a signal. The FCC’s broadband coverage maps determine where billions of dollars in federal funding to expand broadband are directed, and these maps must accurately represent the coverage on the ground,” Senator Hassan said. “The bipartisan Broadband DATA Act builds on my efforts to ensure that the FCC’s broadband maps are accurate, and I urge my colleagues in the House to pass this bill without delay.”
“There’s a severe lack of access to high-speed broadband in rural areas of New Hampshire that is holding back local economies,” Senator Shaheen said. “Having accurate data to identify areas where there’s a shortage of service is key as we prioritize projects that expand access to broadband for our rural communities. Investing in our broadband infrastructure strengthens New Hampshire’s economic competitiveness, enhances public safety and improves livelihoods. I’ll continue to work across the aisle to improve internet access to Granite Staters in every corner of the state.”
Senator Hassan has been leading efforts in the Senate to fix the FCC’s flawed broadband coverage maps that determine which areas are eligible for billions of dollars in federal funding to expand broadband in rural areas. Last year, Senator Hassan successfully called on the FCC to extend the deadline for communities to challenge the accuracy of broadband coverage maps. In February, Senator Hassan joined in sending a bipartisan letter to FCC Chairman Pai advocating for an additional public feedback mechanism that would utilize crowdsourced data to empower consumers and states to help inform broadband coverage maps and report any lack of broadband access to the FCC. Additionally, Senators Hassan and Shaheen recently joined a bipartisan group of their colleagues in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to prioritize sustainable rural broadband networks as the FCC considers new rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) proceeding.