12.20.19

Peters Bipartisan Bill Improving Broadband Maps Passes Senate

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Senate yesterday unanimously passed bipartisan legislation introduced by U.S. Senator Gary Peters (MI) to improve the accuracy of the FCC’s broadband availability maps by modernizing how broadband data is collected. The Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, which Peters introduced with U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS), John Thune (R-SD) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), would improve the accuracy of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband availability maps by strengthening the process by which broadband data is collected. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives for approval before it can head to the President to be signed into law.

“From helping small businesses connect with their customers to providing students the resources they need to succeed, access to high-speed broadband is critical to communities across Michigan,” said Senator Peters. “I am pleased that this bill, which will more accurately track broadband availability, has passed the Senate, and I look forward to continue working to get this bill signed into law so that we can close the digital divide in rural and urban communities across Michigan.”

“Policymakers need to have accurate maps that tell us where broadband is available and where it is not in order to close the digital divide between rural and urban America,” said Senator Wicker. “This bill would be an important step for collecting more precise data to improve the FCC’s flawed maps that waste resources and stifle economic development opportunities. I thank my colleagues on both sides of the aisle for working with me on this important issue, and I urge the House to take up and pass the Broadband DATA Act.”

“I’m glad to see our bipartisan broadband mapping bill pass the Senate today,” said Senator Thune. “Reliable broadband maps are an especially important tool to close the digital divide in rural areas, like much of South Dakota, but without accurate data, the mapping isn’t as effective. With this legislation, the FCC will be required to update its broadband maps ensuring more South Dakotans will be connected to next-generation broadband services, and I thank Chairman Wicker for his leadership on this effort.”

“This is an important step in helping the kids that grow up in rural America to be able to live in rural America,” said Senator Klobuchar. “When rural Americans have access to the infrastructure needed to support improving access to broadband then we keep rural America competitive in the 21st century and beyond. If we want to bridge the urban-rural divide, we have to close the digital divide and this legislation helps with granular data collection for more accurate mapping so that we can bring high-speed internet to every family, regardless of their zip code.”

The bill would also direct the FCC to consider whether to collect verified coverage data from state, local and tribal governments, as well as from other entities, and introduce a new process for consumers, state, local and Tribal governments, and other groups to challenge FCC maps with their own data.

The bipartisan legislation is supported by the Rural Broadband Association, the United States Telecom Association, the Internet & Television Association, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association and the Competitive Carriers Association.

Peters has led numerous efforts in Congress to expand Michiganders’ access to high-speed internet. In June, Peters wrote to the FCC urging prioritization for colleges and universities that are providing broadband access to communities that need it most. Additionally, Peters helped introduce legislation to overturn the Federal Communications Commission’s 2017 decision to repeal net neutrality rules. 

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