The New FCC Maps Are a Critical Component to Broadband Funding | Citizens Against Government Waste

The New FCC Maps Are a Critical Component to Broadband Funding

The WasteWatcher

The last time the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revised its broadband maps was in 2014, using data found on form 477, filed by communications providers.  Congress recognized the need to update the maps when it enacted the Broadband DATA Act, which was signed into law on March 20, 2020.  The law requires the FCC to update the maps and modernize the process for collecting data.   

On November 18, 2022, the FCC released its first iteration of the new broadband deployment maps.  The maps are essential to ensuring that the hundreds of billions of dollars that are available to be spent for broadband deployment out of the American Rescue Plan Act and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act are not wasted on duplicative efforts. 

The FCC’s draft map includes data provided by wireless and wireline broadband service providers across the country.  A mapping challenge process is built into the map development, which will allow both providers and communities to submit information to the FCC about potential inaccuracies in the map.  The expectation is that the information will be evaluated by the spring of 2023.   

During this process, state broadband offices should exercise caution before issuing grant funding to local entities and ensure that funding is issued to communities that are truly unserved, while avoiding duplication or overbuilding of existing services.  The states should establish requirements for funding to be technology and vendor neutral rather than picking one technology (fiber-to-the-premise) and one vendor (government-owned networks) over other technologies and vendors that may currently offer better connectivity to or are already in the process of investing in broadband networks within their communities. 

Waiting for the maps to move through the approval process will require some patience, but restraint is required to help ensure that the taxpayers’ money is being spent effectively and efficiently.  Truly unserved communities should be the first priority for broadband funding, and a fully vetted process for broadband mapping is critical to achieve that objective. 

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