WASHINGTON — Bipartisan legislation cosponsored by U.S. Senators Maggie Hassan and Jeanne Shaheen to expand access to broadband in rural and underserved communities in New Hampshire by improving the accuracy of broadband maps has been approved by both the Senate and House and now goes to the President’s desk to become law.
“Far too many communities in New Hampshire do not have reliable broadband access, which hinders their ability to fully participate in the 21st century innovation economy,” Senator Hassan said. “This bill will help improve the accuracy of the Federal Communication Commission’s broadband maps, which help determine where billions of dollars in federal funding to expand broadband are directed. I look forward to the President signing this important, bipartisan legislation into law.”
“In New Hampshire and across the country, broadband access is key to promoting economic growth, expanding educational opportunities and leveling the playing field between urban and rural communities,” Senator Shaheen said. “By improving the accuracy of the FCC’s broadband coverage maps, the Broadband DATA Act will help ensure that we are delivering resources to the communities that need it most. I urge the President to sign this important legislation into law and I’ll continue to champion bipartisan efforts in the Senate that will increase access to high-speed broadband for all Americans, regardless of their zip code.”
The bipartisan Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to improve its broadband coverage maps by requiring the FCC to gather more detailed coverage data from service providers, a move that would improve the agency’s data collection and reporting. The FCC’s coverage maps determine the areas that are eligible for federal funds targeted to underserved communities that do not have access to reliable broadband service. Additionally, the bill would mandate that the FCC biannually update their broadband data maps, as well as develop an improved and less burdensome process for stakeholders to challenge the maps’ accuracy – a New Hampshire priority that Senator Hassan has long fought for.
Senator Hassan has worked to fix the FCC’s flawed broadband coverage maps and expand broadband coverage to underserved areas. Senator Hassan successfully called on the FCC to extend the deadline for communities to challenge the accuracy of broadband coverage maps. Senator Hassan also joined in sending a bipartisan letter to FCC Chairman Ajit 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. In December, Senators Hassan and Shaheen joined their colleagues to urge the FCC to prioritize sustainable rural broadband networks as the FCC considers new rules in the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund proceeding. Additionally, Senator Hassan recently introduced two bipartisan bills with Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) to help states, cities, and towns spur investment in rural broadband projects. The bills complement ongoing efforts in New Hampshire to provide local governments with innovative financing options for broadband projects, giving states and localities additional tools to promote rural broadband investment.