Rep. Delgado Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Improve Flawed Broadband Mapping

April 8, 2021
Press Release

RHINEBECK, NY – Today, U.S. Representative Antonio Delgado (D-NY-19) and Representative David B. McKinley (R-WV-1) introduced bipartisan legislation to help end the digital divide and deliver affordable, quality broadband service to rural Americans. The Community Broadband Mapping Act addresses flawed federal broadband mapping practices and empowers local communities to dispute inaccurate Federal Communications Commission (FCC) internet service status claims.

“Flawed service maps compiled by the FCC paint an inaccurate picture of upstate broadband access,” said Rep. Delgado. “The Community Broadband Mapping Act gives our communities the ability to collect their own data on broadband coverage so that they can challenge the FCC’s inaccurate mapping. This is the first step to ensuring families, farmers, small businesses, and students across New York's 19th Congressional District can access secure and affordable broadband service. It is unacceptable that in the 21st century, in the wealthiest county in the world, folks are living without a reliable internet connection. As the pandemic has made even more clear, broadband service isn't a luxury—it's a necessity.”

“The digital divide between rural America and the rest of the nation has been exacerbated by the COVID pandemic. Reliable access to the internet remains a necessity for all Americans no matter where they live,” said Rep. McKinley. “Without maps that provide an accurate assessment of internet connectivity, we can’t target resources correctly to parts of the country that need help. This bill will help address this continuing problem.”

“Accurate and reliable broadband mapping is a key component to our nation’s ability to expand broadband services to the unserved and underserved areas,” said President of MIDTEL Family of Companies Jim Becker. “Broadband equity, or the ability for every American to get Broadband service, is crucial for education, healthcare, workforce production, and economic development, all of which was highlighted by the Covid pandemic. This bill helps ensure that those areas overlooked in the past due to inaccurate broadband mapping will be included in the future, and will finally be able to get access to broadband that is essential in their everyday lives.”

The FCC estimates that more than 21 million Americans lack access to broadband—and that rural Americans are ten times as likely as those in urban areas to be without coverage. Without an accurate picture of gaps in service, no amount of federal investments can close the digital divide.

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 grants that would allow them to collect information on local broadband coverage. This will allow communities that are incorrectly designated by the FCC as having broadband access to have the information necessary to dispute that status with the FCC.