Pai: FCC Lacks Resources to Implement BROADBAND DATA Act

FCC chair Ajit Pai told a House Financial Services Subcommittee audience that he could not provide a timeline for when the FCC could improve its broadband availability maps, in part because of a bill Congress just passed to require better mapping. 

That came in an FCC budget hearing Wednesday (March 11). 

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Asked for a best-guess for when better maps could be produced, commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who was also testifying, said she thought the FCC could improve its maps within 3-6 months and again argued the commission should hold off on handing new rural broadband buildout subsidies--$16 billion worth and the majority of that 10-year Rural Digital Opportunity Fund--until it improved those maps.  

Pai shot back that that was "flatly incorrect." He said having consulted the career staff at the FCC, it would take all of those six months just to analyze the underlying data before they could translated into verifiable maps. 

He added that the was before the recent legislation that was passed that "doesn't give us the resources." Pressed for a time estimate, Pai said it would be a lot longer than 3-6 months, but could not provide an estimate "because the recently passed legislation imposes new mandates the the FCC does not have the funding to be able to fulfill." 

Pai was referring to the Senate's unanimous passage of the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act Tuesday, which requires the FCC to issue new rules "to require the collection and dissemination of granular broadband availability data and to establish a process to verify the accuracy of such data, and more."   

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.