Nevada Democrats Are Down on FCC Broadband Maps

Nevada Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto and Jacky Rosen
Sens. Catherine Cortez Masto (l.) and Jacky Rosen of Nevada at a campaign event last year. (Image credit: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

A pair of U.S. senators from Nevada said the Federal Communications Commission’s new draft map of broadband availability is “deeply flawed” and could cost their state millions in government subsidies.

The FCC is under orders from Congress to come up with better maps. It released a draft late last year in what the agency has said is an iterative process that will benefit from stakeholder input.

Sens. Jacky Rosen and Catherine Cortez Masto, both Democrats representing Nevada, had plenty of input. They told FCC chair Jessica Rosenworcel that “[d]espite a clear mandate from Congress, the draft maps are deeply flawed. As Senators representing Nevada, we are seriously concerned about the Nevada map’s accuracy and potential negative impacts on broadband infrastructure funding for our state.”

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The senators told Rosenworcel that Nevada’s State Broadband Office also had concerns about the FCC’s process for challenging the maps, saying it is “based on assumptions that put the onus on consumers to proactively engage with providers, rather than practical access to high-speed internet for consumers or technological realities.”

It is not Rosen’s first bite at what she suggests is a bad apple. She was a lead signatory on an earlier, bipartisan letter to Rosenworcel (opens in new tab) also questioning the maps’ accuracy.

In November 2022, the FCC released the first draft (opens in new tab) of its new broadband availability maps meant to more accurately represent broadband coverage as the Biden administration pushes tens of billions of dollars toward its universal broadband pledge.

The maps show location-level information about broadband availability, an upgrade from the census-level data the FCC had previously collected and which had allowed some broadband dead zones to appear live if they were in census blocks with service elsewhere. ▪️

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.