Broadband Funding Should Be Tied to Accurate FCC Broadband Maps | Citizens Against Government Waste

Broadband Funding Should Be Tied to Accurate FCC Broadband Maps

The WasteWatcher

According to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Brendan Carr, up to $800 billion is available across the country to build out broadband infrastructure.  This money must be spent to connect unserved and underserved Americans across the country.  One of the most critical steps in ensuring these funds achieve that objective is for the FCC to continue to move forward and complete its broadband mapping program, which was authorized by the Broadband DATA Act, and funded in December 2020.  Internet service providers will begin sharing information on deployments with the agency starting on June 30, 2022, and must have all their data to the FCC by September 1, 2022. 

These maps will help prevent federal and state taxpayer dollars from being wasted on building duplicative government-owned networks that overbuild and directly compete against existing providers.  If this occurs, unserved and underserved households will continue to lack the service they need.

As Citizens Against Government Waste President Tom Schatz noted in his February 3, 2022, comments to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on how the agency should spend the $48 billion it has been allocated under the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) for broadband deployment, “NTIA should require states to use the most current mapping data available, once the FCC completes its broadband mapping program, to deploy broadband in the following order: 1) unserved communities that do not meet the current standard of 25/3 Mbps speed threshold, which would include historically disconnected communities where middle and last mile connectivity is lacking at or above that standard, and 2) underserved communities that have only one provider offering 25/3 Mbps.”

If the NTIA and other agencies that have received money for broadband infrastructure allocated funds without accurate maps, the potential for wasteful spending will be greatly exacerbated.  The FCC’s latest deadlines for data from providers are a key component to moving forward with the improved maps, which should ensure that broadband access will be provided only to those who are truly unserved or underserved.

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