Dems Seek FCC Explanation of Faulty Broadband Coverage Data

Leadership of the House Energy & Commerce Committee have written the FCC looking for answers as to how inaccurate broadband data made it into a draft of its upcoming Sec. 706 report to Congress on the availability of advanced communications.

An FCC source confirmed that there had been an overstatement of broadband coverage. The report is compiled using data from carriers.

Barrier Communications Corporation had said that it reached almost 1.5 million census blocks with fiber-to-the-home and fixed wireless service when it appeared the company had simply submitted as its coverage area every census blocks in the eight states where it offered service to any census block, and at speeds of 940 Mbps.

The mistake was caught in time to correct it for the final report, but it raised questions about the accuracy of those carrier-reported numbers in general.

That included Reps. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), chairman of the E&C Committee, Mike Doyle (D-Pa.), chairman of the Communications Subcommittee, Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-Va.), a member of the committee, and others.

“If we don’t have accurate information about where broadband Internet is available, how are we ever going to connect our rural and underserved communities?” McEachin said. “We have to know where we are to figure out where we need to go. Instead of taking a victory lap for imaginary progress, the FCC needs to correct the record and explain how these apparent mistakes were made."

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.