Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Senate Commerce Committee, has called on Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) to hold an FCC oversight hearing with the FCC commissioners and acting chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel within the next month focused on broadband mapping.
Wicker is looking for a timeline from the FCC, an issue that came up in a hearing earlier this month on "Recent Federal Actions to Expand Broadband: Are We Making Progress?"
At the hearing, both Cantwell and Wicker expressed their hopes that the FCC could get out better maps on where broadband is and isn't as soon as possible, with Wicker saying that Congress was just looking for guidance on how it could help speed that timeline.
At the March 17 hearing, after Wicker had said Rosenworcel recently said a mapping revamp would not be completed until 2022, Cantwell said that she had had a conversation with the acting chairwoman and Rosenworcel had "intimated she thought it was a four-month answer on the mapping."
Wicker referenced that conversation in his letter to Cantwell asking for the hearing, a copy of which was obtained by Multichannel News.
He also pointed out that he and other Republicans had sent a letter to Rosenworcel asking about her plans and timelines, but that the response they got "simply gave a broad overview of the process of developing new maps, without any target completion date."
"I hope you and I can work together to compel the FCC to address this issue quickly," he told Cantwell. "I am therefore requesting that the Committee hold an FCC oversight hearing within the next month."
Last month, Rosenworcel created a Broadband Data Task Force to implement "long-overdue" improvements to the commission's broadband mapping and data collection. She has long argued that the FCC should put maps before money when it came to handing out billions of dollars to subsidize broadband service.
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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.