As FCC chairman Ajit Pai signaled at a Senate Commerce oversight hearing June 24. The FCC will vote next month on implementing the Broadband DATA Act. The act, which passed in March, directed the FCC to collect better data on where broadband is and isn't deployed.
In a blog outlining the July 16 public meeting agenda, the chairman said that the digital divide can't be closed until the FCC can get that better data, adding that better maps will also be needed to give the public confidence that the divide is being closed.
He said that Congress was essentially ratifying the FCC's Digital Opportunity Data Collection to collect that better data, launched in 2019. He says that effort will provide maps with unprecedented detail.
Pai said that the item at the July meeting will combine a Second Report and Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking that will adopt "specific coverage reporting and disclosure requirements" for both fixed and mobile broadband ISPs. He says it will spell out certification requirements and the metrics for insuring the accuracy of availability data.
In addition it will have a a process for getting input from states, localities, and Tribal governments, as well as consumers and other stakeholders to make the maps "as accurate as possible."
Pai also points out that Congress will need to provide at least $65 million to get the maps "off the ground."
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.
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