FCC Launching Public Input Mapping Tool

FCC seal
(Image credit: FCC)

FCC acting chair Jessica Rosenworcel said the FCC will be launching a new broadband mapping tool that will allow consumers to weigh in on where broadband is and isn't, information that will be shared with the Broadband Data Task Force.

That task force was formed last month to coordinate the FCC's implementation of a congressional mandate to collect and verify data about broadband availability.

In a new blog post, Rosenworcel outlined the steps she has already taken to collect better data so the FCC can get broadband subsidy dollars to where they are needed most.

In a letter last week, Republicans called on Rosenworcel to get moving on better mapping, but her blog indicates she has already been there and is doing that. Her goal: "a publicly accessible, data-based nationwide map of locations where broadband is truly available throughout the United States."

She has not put a timetable on the effort, though when her predecessor, Ajit Pai, was being pressed for better data, she said though improvements could be made in 3-6 months.

That was also Congress' goal in the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which Republicans have pointed out passed a year ago. Of course, Rosenworcel has only been in the FCC's center seat for a few weeks and Congress only appropriated the funds to overhaul the FCC's broadband data collection late last year.

But in her few weeks as acting chair, she says she has already "procured an expert data architect and design firm to work with the Commission’s own data and IT systems specialists" to design a "complex web of databases, systems and public-facing portals that can support the new Broadband Data Collection data and the several public-facing maps we will generate" and has put out a request for information to "jump start" contracting for creating "the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric," a common dataset of all locations in the United States where fixed broadband internet access service can be installed."

Rosenworcel said that will be a key to creating "an accurate and comprehensive picture of the availability of fixed broadband service throughout the country."

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.