Wicker, Hassan, & Moran Introduce ‘MAP Broadband Act’ to Address Wireless Coverage Map Gaps
Legislation Targets Flawed FCC Mobility Fund Challenge Process to Help Expand Rural Wireless Broadband
May 24, 2018
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Maggie Hassan, D-N.H., and Jerry Moran, R-Kan., today introduced S. 2955, the “Mobile Accuracy and Precision Broadband Act” (MAP Broadband Act). If enacted, the bill would help improve the accuracy of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mobile broadband coverage map and ensure that federal resources are targeted to unserved communities that do not have access to reliable mobile broadband service.
“The FCC’s seriously-flawed mobile coverage map threatens to exclude many rural communities from much-needed wireless broadband support,” Senator Wicker said. “The FCC should address Americans’ concerns and fix this inaccurate map. We need to ensure that the 23 million rural Americans who currently lack broadband service will be first in line to receive support through the Mobility Fund program.”
“Ensuring that all Granite Staters have access to broadband is critical to the success of our people and businesses in the 21st century economy,” Senator Hassan said. “Unfortunately, the FCC’s coverage maps, which are used to prioritize broadband expansion efforts, are inaccurate for New Hampshire, and many rural areas. This bipartisan bill will improve the process by which Granite Staters can help identify errors in the FCC’s maps and help ensure that New Hampshire is appropriately represented in broadband expansion efforts."
“Bridging the Digital Divide and deploying high-speed internet to rural communities continues to be a top priority for me and for my colleagues representing rural America,” said Senator Moran. “However, effective and efficient deployment of federal resources like the FCC’s Mobility Fund is completely reliant upon the accuracy of the data collected. This bill seeks to improve the map’s accuracy by bolstering the challenge process in an effort to better target areas that lack quality broadband services – especially rural areas – and make certain the economic competitiveness needs of all Kansans are addressed.”
The legislation would address problems with the FCC’s Mobility Fund Phase II (MF-II) presumptive eligibility map
s. The map misrepresents the existence of 4G LTE wireless broadband service in many areas based on on-the-ground experience. If left uncorrected, this map would exclude many areas that lack sufficient wireless broadband access from being eligible for MF-II funding, which is expected to be $4.53 billion over 10 years.
The legislation would also address concerns with the FCC’s challenge process for the presumptive eligibility map. The FCC has established a process whereby eligible entities, including state, local, and tribal governments, as well as wireless providers, can challenge and verify the FCC’s initial assessment. However, the time frame for the challenge process does not provide enough time for entities lacking sufficient personnel and resources to correct significant flaws in the current map.
Specifically, the “MAP Broadband Act” would require the FCC to:
- Extend the challenge process window by 90 days to ensure that challengers with limited resources and personnel have enough time to challenge the map;
- Disclose the eligible handsets (i.e. phones) that each mobile wireless service provider has approved for challengers to use in the challenge process;
- Provide monthly updates on the number of entities that the Commission has approved to participate in the challenge process as challengers, and the percentage of the total geographic areas initially determined to be ineligible for MF-II support that have been challenged under the challenge process; and
- Provide annual updates on the expansion of mobile wireless service through the MF-II program.
Read the full bill text here.
For more information about the legislation, click here.