Delgado addresses New York rural broadband disparities with new legislation
HUDSON — U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado announced Friday a package of legislation that would address issues with delivering broadband to rural communities.
The announcement comes one week after Delgado held a congressional field hearing at Columbia-Greene Community College, joined by FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, to hear small business owners, broadband providers and professionals in education and medicine testify about the importance of continuous access to broadband for improved quality of life.
“The takeaways were clear: we need to fix flawed broadband mapping protocol and future proof our broadband infrastructure to keep pace with the technology of tomorrow,” Delgado said in a press release.
According to the New York State Broadband Program Office, 98% of New Yorkers have access to broadband. But the number is known to be an extreme overestimate because of mapping flaws. If one home within a census block has access to broadband services, the entire block is marked as served, according to the office.
Delgado proposed two bills that would improve issues with broadband mapping procedures.
The Broadband Speed Act requires internet service providers to report to the FCC each year the speeds they are actually capable of providing, rather than what they could potentially provide. This would ensure the speeds provided would match what companies advertised.
The Community Broadband Mapping Act allows access to USDA Rural Utility Service broadband programs for grant funding that would allow local governments, electric cooperatives, community groups and small internet providers to collect information on local broadband services. As such, these entities could dispute when the FCC incorrectly marks their entire area as covered because a handful of households have access to broadband.
“Our rural communities need broadband internet that is accessible, reliable, and matches their internet needs and these measures are important steps to closing the digital divide,” Delgado said.
At last week’s hearing, witnesses testified about how lack of broadband service can affect everything from access to health care, business success and growth rates, quality of education and more.