The Senate Commerce Committee held a hearing on how the Federal Communications Commission collects and maps data on the availability of broadband connectivity. Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) said it was crucial to have accurate broadband maps on where broadband is and isn't available at certain speeds if the country wants to close the digital divide, and that inaccurate maps waste money and stifle opportunity for economic development in rural areas. He wanted to know how long the FCC's data collection process (form 477) had been deficient.
NCTA-The Internet & Television Association has provided the Federal Communications Commission with some more details about its proposal to improve broadband deployment data, which the FCC collects from carriers to determine if advanced telecommunications is being deployed in a reasonable and timely manner. NCTA wants to get more granular data by using "shape files", rather than the current census blocks, that illustrate the actual contours of service.
During questioning at the House Appropriations Financial Services and General Government Subcommittee hearing on the Federal Communications Commission's budget, the FCC got some praise for their handling of the post-broadcast incentive auction repack. Ranking Member Tom Graves (R-GA) said that he thought getting the repack right was a case of everyone working together productively to help guide Congress on "the proper steps to take" to get to a final product." Rep Mark Amodei (R-NV) said, "The agency has been phenomenally cooperative and a standout in my experience in eight years here.
House Commerce Committee leadership -- Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Communications Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA), and Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA) -- wrote the Federal Communications Commission looking for answers as to how inaccurate broadband data made it into a draft of its upcoming Sec. 706 report to Congress on the availability of advanced communications. “If we don’t have accurate information about where broadband Internet is available, how are we ever going to connect our rural and underserved communities?” Rep. McEachin said.
The US Department of Agriculture is collecting comment on what is the best spectrum management policy to get broadband to more rural areas. In its comments, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) said it is all for a "rural first" approach to spectrum, which it calls quickest, most cost-effective way to get high-speed broadband to farmers, who can use it to help monitor and manage their crops.
The Federal Communications Commission told the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit that it did gauge the impact of its 2017 broadcast deregulation on media ownership diversity and found it would have “no material impact.” That came in a brief to court which is hearing appeals by Prometheus and others of that media ownership deregulation, both from groups that say the FCC was too deregulatory and without properly vetting the impact on diversity, and from those that say it was not deregulatory enough because it only loosened its prohibition on owning two of the top-four stations in a ma
Sen Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who is running to be President, has pledged a broadband connection in every home as part of her trillion-dollar infrastructure rebuild plan. She said the overall rebuild/upgrade -- roads, bridges, green infrastructure, broadband and more -- would be her top budget priority from the outset. That includes connecting every household to the internet by 2022.
Reaction was swift to the House Communications Subcommittee's referral of the Save the Internet Act to the full House Commerce Committee, the first step in its likely passage by the House. NCTA-The Internet & Television Association said, “With today’s action, the subcommittee has stubbornly insisted on a partisan path that leads to a dead end.
The House Communications Subcommittee has voted 18 to 11 along party lines to refer the Save the Internet Act (HR 1644) to the full committee, where it is also expected to be favorably reported out. The Save the Internet Act restores the Federal Communications Commission's 2015 Open Internet Order that created strong network neutrality rules. Full Committee Chairman Frank Pallone (D-NJ) said of the Title II-restoring bill: "Failure to move forward on this legislation is simply not an option." "[N]et neutrality is not Title II," said Full Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR).
House Commerce Committee Ranking Member Greg Walden (R-OR) said that the goal of new internet regulation, which he says he generally supports, should be to prevent bad behavior by Internet service providers, not to re-enshrine the Title II telecommunication definition suited to monopoly telephone companies.