Following Field Hearing, Rep. Delgado Announces New Legislation to Address Flawed Broadband Mapping

October 11, 2019
Press Release

HUDSON, NY—Following his Rural Broadband Field Hearing last week with FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, today, Representative Antonio Delgado (NY-19) announced a package of legislation aimed at addressing flawed broadband mapping practices and increasing speed standards in rural communities. Additionally, one of Rep. Delgado’s proposals would empower local communities to accurately assess who has access to broadband and at what speeds and who has been left behind by the digital divide.

“One week ago today, I brought FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks to hear from our community about the urgent need to address broadband issues in upstate New York – 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.” Rep. Delgado continued, “the bills I’m introducing today are a product of these important conversations and seek to address the issues of flawed maps that overstate internet access and speeds in rural communities. This legislative package will require more accurate data from internet service providers and ensure that new broadband service funded through the FCC will deliver internet at speeds required for the modern era. This legislation will also allow local governments and concerned citizens to challenge flawed FCC maps by gathering their own data—empowering them to figure out where there are coverage gaps. 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.”

“We appreciate the Congressman’s recognition of the critical role access to robust broadband plays for rural New Yorkers and look forward to continuing to work with his office toward solutions that will help close the digital divide,” said Timothy R. Johnson, CEO, Otsego Electric Cooperative, Inc. and OEConnect, LLC and witness at Rep. Delgado’s Rural Broadband Field Hearing.

Hearing witness Clifford Belden, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Columbia Memorial Health said, “Broadband access is critically important for telemedicine and the provision of healthcare in rural communities. The two bills introduced today will better ensure that broadband access is accurately represented in rural communities so that gaps in coverage and speed can be addressed.”

“NTCA thanks Congressman Delgado for his ongoing interest in promoting the availability of higher-speed broadband services and improving the accuracy of broadband speed data as reported by providers,” NTCA Chief Executive Officer, Shirley Bloomfield, said of the Broadband Speed Act, “Steps must be taken to address both of these concerns, and we look forward to a further conversation with Congressman Delgado and others in Congress on how best to advance these goals and achieve the ultimate mission of universal service – delivering quality services that will keep pace with consumer needs in rural and urban areas alike.”

The legislative package is comprised of two bills that empower communities to improve flawed broadband mapping procedures. The first, the Broadband Speed Act would require internet service providers to annually report data to the FCC that shows the actual speeds they are capable of providing, as opposed to what they can potentially provide within 7-10 business days. This will help demonstrate to the FCC where broadband service is actually matching the speeds being advertised, and where there are still gaps in service. It would also require that new FCC funding awards be built out at speeds of 100 mbps or higher to ensure that they are built to last.

The second bill, the Community Broadband Mapping Act, would allow local governments, electric/telephone cooperatives, economic development/community groups and small internet providers to access USDA Rural Utility Service broadband programs for grant funding that would allow them to collect information on local broadband service. This will allow communities who are currently incorrectly designated by the FCC as having service to take action to have the information necessary to dispute that status with the FCC in any future challenge process at the FCC or at the state level.