Data & Mapping
The Federal Communications Commission announced it will begin collecting first-hand accounts on broadband availability and service quality directly from consumers as part of its Broadband Data Collection program. A new webpage, www.fcc.gov/BroadbandData, explains the FCC’s program and provides direct links to consumer resources including a new “share your broadband experience” option.
I am very pleased to learn that Senator Cantwell and Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel had a phone call in which they reached an understanding that maps will get done in just four months. This is an important development because completing these maps is key to unlocking the funding needed to further close the digital divide. It’s great to learn about the new July 2021 timeline.
Expanding affordable broadband access is a rare issue with bipartisan support on the Hill. During the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Federal efforts to expand broadband access, senators from both parties joined together to express concerns over expanding access, ensuring accurate broadband connectivity maps, and figuring out how best to spend federal broadband funding.
In a matter of weeks we have already made progress on improving our broadband maps and there’s much more going on behind the scenes:
A group of Senators recently sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission asking to raise the definition of broadband to 100/100 Mbps. This speed has been discussed for several years as the logical step forward from the current 25/3 Mbps speed set by the FCC in 2015. It’s clear to everyone in the industry that homes are using a lot more broadband than they did in 2015 – with the biggest change being simultaneous uses of multiple broadband streams in the typical home. The change in broadband definition would trigger the following:
Q&A with FCC Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel: The ‘Homework Gap’ Is an ‘Especially Cruel’ Reality During the Pandemic
A Q&A with Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel on how she plans to use her new role at the FCC to tackle digital equity issues. "We must start recognizing that for students who don’t have internet access at home, having the school loan out a wireless hot spot is the difference between keeping up in class and falling behind. We can do something to fix this. It’s why we’re in the process of evaluating how we can update the current E-rate program to meet the moment students and families find themselves in," she said. ...
Angela Siefer, executive director of the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, and Amina Fazlullah, director of equity policy at Common Sense Media, describe what you need to know about the digital divide, its impact throughout the pandemic, and where we might go from here.
In a letter to Federal Communications Commission Acting Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the minority leadership from the House and Senate Commerce Committees asked about the FCC's status on completing its mapping process to ensure accurate broadband data collection. [Congress just allocated the funds the FCC needs to do the mapping in December 2020.] "[W]e are concerned that delays in completing these maps could lead to further delays in distributing critical broadband funds," the Members of Congress write. "You have repeatedly stated that the FCC could quickly produce new broadband maps.
You might think Washington state director of broadband Russ Elliott would be pleased about private companies winning $223 million in federal subsidies to expand broadband in rural WA. Instead, Elliott is frustrated. He’s under direction from WA’s Legislature to bring the entire state up to superfast internet speeds by 2028. Yet in Dec, the federal government announced plans to award hundreds of millions of dollars to companies Elliott is afraid won't meet the state’s standards. For Elliott, the awards to private-sector companies such as SpaceX and CenturyLink pose another problem as well.
A Q&A with Bernadine Joselyn, director of public policy and engagement for the Blandin Foundation and member of the Minnesota Governor's Broadband Task Force.