Senate Passes Broadband DATA Act

The Senate has unanimously passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. It has already passed the House so now heads to the President's desk. 

The bill 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."  

Related: Broadband Mapping Bill Passes House

The bill essentially puts Congress' impetus behind an effort already underway at the FCC. The commission voted earlier this year to come up with a more granular broadband data collection process that could be crowd-vetted.    

“We welcome Congress’ action in passing legislation that will improve our national broadband maps and enable policymakers to better target scarce resources to areas that currently lack broadband service," said NCTA-The Internet & Television Association in a statement. "In particular, we commend Congress’ ratification of the FCC’s decision to use ‘shapefile’ data that will better reflect provider service areas and will result in more accurate broadband maps. We urge the President to sign this legislation and to advance our shared interest in identifying unserved areas and connecting more homes to powerful, high-speed internet service.” 

“The House and now the Senate have both decisively acted to transform the country’s outdated broadband maps to get a clearer picture of who has – and who still lacks – access to broadband, the 21st century’s indispensable resource," said USTelecom president Jonathan Spalter. "Under the leadership of Senators Wicker, Peters, Thune and Klobuchar, Congress has adopted a data-driven plan to modernize the national broadband coverage maps with the express purpose of increasing deployment in rural America. 

“CCA has made this issue a priority, and I commend the Senate for passing the bipartisan Broadband DATA Act," said Competitive Carriers Association president Steven K. Berry...."As it becomes law, this will have a positive impact on every household in rural America. Improving the broadband coverage maps based on more reliable data is absolutely essential to identifying areas still in need of critical mobile broadband services to help target support, and this legislation is a tremendous step in the right direction of achieving this important goal. I thank Congress for its attention to this incredibly important issue and for sending this bill to the President’s desk for signature.”

“Access to high speed internet is vital in today’s interconnected world, yet 19 million Americans – including one-fourth of the rural population – still cannot access standard broadband services," said Reps. Greg Walden (R-Ore.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Bob Latta (R-Miss.), ranking member of the Communications Subcommittee. "To expand broadband to communities that need it, we must know exactly where those communities are. The bipartisan Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act will do just that, by improving mapping capabilities so we collect more accurate data, boost connectivity, and make sure our limited resources are used most effectively. We thank our Senate colleagues for moving swiftly to pass this important bill that takes steps to improve connectivity for all Americans, regardless of zip code, and look forward to President Trump signing it into law." 

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.