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NCTA Supports Broadband Mapping Bill

The cable industry supports a bill that would require federal agencies, both the National Telecommunications & Information Administration and the FCC, to collect more, and more precise, data on the rollout of broadband service in the U.S..

The FCC would collect the data, and NTIA would be charged with coming up with a map showing exactly where, and what kind of, broadband service was available.

According to a National Cable & Telecommunications Association spokesman, NCTA President Kyle McSlarrow is scheduled to testify Thursday at a hearing on a draft of the bill, where McSlarrow will essentially support it and say: "let's get on with it." McSlarrow has called the broadband rollout a success story, thanks in large part to the cable industries $100 billion-plus investment in improving its networks.

The FCC has been criticized for using Zip Codes to show where the service is available when there is only one person with broadband in a ZIP The bill excludes such cases. The FCC has also been criticized for defining high-speed access at lower bit rates than other countries.

The bill would establish in law that "high-speed" access means "transmission at speeds allowing the user to download not less than 2 megabits per second and upload not less than 1 megabit per second.’’

Congressional and FCC Democrats have been critical of the pace and character of the broadband roll-out, with House Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee Chairman Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who is pushing the data-collection bill, and Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell (D-Mich.) concerned that rural and poorer areas are not getting the service as quickly as wealthier ones, hence the desire for a detailed map of just who is getting what, where.

Also scheduled to testify are representatives of Free Press, and the heads of the cellular and wireline telephone associations, Steve Largent and Walter McCormick, respectively.

The FCC has already opened an inquiry into how better to collect data in the wake of the congressional criticism.