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Senate to Kick Tires on NTIA Broadband Mapping Plans

The Senate Commerce Committee will hold an oversight hearing June 13 on the National Telecommunications & Information Adminstration, according to Committee chair John Thune (R-S.D.).

NTIA, a part of the Department of Commerce, is the chief communications policy advisor to the White House.

The hearing is part of the committee's ongoing oversight process, but also comes as NTIA is preparing to take a bigger role in broadband data collection, and is looking to help free up more spectrum for mobile broadband, both important issues in the committee.

In fact, the hearing notice spotlights the need for NTIA to come up with a "modern National Broadband Map capable of providing better service availability data."

Related: NTIA Seeks Help With Improving Broadband Availability Data

NTIA used to oversee the broadband availability map with broadband stimulus funds, but those ran out in 2015. The FCC has been handling the broadband data collection map ever since, but Congress, in the latest omnibus appropriations bill, charged NTIA with improving the accuracy of broadband availability data, particularly in rural areas.

Closing the rural divide, which is a priority for Congress, the White House and FCC, depends on knowing where service is and isn't available.

Just last week, NTIA put out a request for comment on how to improve the quality and accuracy of such data. The agency said its goal is "identifying gaps in broadband availability that can be used to improve policymaking and inform public investments."

Testifying at the oversight hearing will be the administrator of the agency, and the official with one of the longest titles in D.C., David Redl, assistant secretary for communications and information and administrator, National Telecommunications & Information Administration, U.S. Department of Commerce.