FCC's Rosenworcel: Better Broadband Maps by Fall
Notes federal contracting rule issues that had held up key element
FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel promised Congress that the FCC would produce better broadband availability maps by the fall.
Rep. Bob Latta (R-Ohio), ranking member of the House Communications Subcommittee, which was holding its first FCC oversight hearing Thursday (March 31) for well over a year, pointed out in his questioning that Rosenworcel had told the Senate in 2020 that the FCC would come up with better maps within six months but that the FCC was still working on them, with a deadline of September 1 for the latest input.
Better broadband maps is a key issue for both Democrats and Republicans. For Republicans in particular, the focus has been on preventing waste, fraud and abuse and overbuilding of existing service given the over $40 billion
Latta asked whether she could commit to better maps by the year's end and Rosenworcel said yes.
She pointed out that she had been referring back in 2020 to the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) subsidy and issues with those maps, which had led, in the previous administration, to including the Pentagon parking lot among areas needing service (Rosenworcel had opposed handing out RDOF funds before correcting those problems, ow what she called "money before maps").
She said the FCC had to do better and was doing better as it worked to implement the Broadband Data Act "to a T" and that, while the best time for better maps would have been five years ago, the second best time was now. She said FCC would get those new maps out by the fall.
Another delay, she pointed out, was federal contracting rules had forced them to "put down their pencils" for 100 days on the legislatively mandated broadband location fabric before the FCC got the go-ahead earlier this month. ■
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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.