“Closing the digital divide and promoting broadband deployment have long been bipartisan priorities and funding the Broadband DATA Act will improve those efforts,” the legislators wrote.
The bill, which was signed into law March 23, requires “the Federal Communications Commission (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,” according to a committee press release. The law also makes it illegal for individuals or companies to “willfully and knowingly, or recklessly” submit inaccurate or incomplete information about the availability or quality of broadband internet access.
The legislation’s primary goal is to “create an improved National Broadband Map that is significantly more accurate and granular, and subject to an ongoing and multi-faceted challenge, validation, and refinement process.”
The Republican committee members, led by E&C Ranking Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Ranking Member Bob Latta, R-Ohio, asked House Committee on Appropriations leadership to “fully fund” the Broadband Data Act as they “are considering future appropriations bills.” According to a CBO estimate, the bill would require appropriating $25 million in 2021, and $9 million annually from 2022 through 2028.
“As the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted, the availability of broadband service is a critical driver of the economy, distance learning, and telehealth services,” the Republicans wrote. “Given the pivotal role that private communications networks serve in connecting Americans, we must ensure that the FCC has the tools it needs to facilitate efficiently the deployment of these networks … While we are focused on responding to the current health emergency and suppressing its reach, funding the Broadband DATA Act is vital to ensuring that all Americans are connected.”