FCC Enacts New Rules to Ensure Accurate Broadband Mapping Data

On Tuesday, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) adopted further measures to help identify connectivity gaps in the nation’s broadband network. The additional rules are a part of the agency’s Digital Opportunity Data Collection initiative, the FCC’s press release explains.

The FCC’s newly rolled-out third report and order govern the collection of broadband deployment data from state, local, and Tribal mapping entities, other federal agencies, and third parties. The new rules specify “which fixed and mobile broadband Internet access service providers are required to report availability and/or coverage data, and adopt requirements for reporting speed and latency for fixed technologies.” They also mandate that broadband Internet access providers clarify whether services are offered to residential and/or business customers.

The report and order also describe the process for providers “to submit and respond to challenges to fixed and mobile coverage map data.” Providers will also be required to present either infrastructure information or on-the-ground test data as part of the FCC’s verification of a mobile service provider’s coverage data, the press release explains.

Outgoing FCC Chairman Ajit Pai lauded the FCC’s steps. “The Commission’s top priority is to make sure that every American has high-speed Internet access. To get that job done, we need to know exactly where broadband is and isn’t available, which is why I led the Commission to adopt the Digital Opportunity Data Collection in 2019,” he said. Pai added that “Congress’s recent appropriation of funding and the FCC’s adoption of new rules today build on the groundwork we’ve laid over the last few years to create more accurate broadband availability maps. I’m excited that we can look forward to having a better picture of America’s broadband needs.”

The new rules come several months after the FCC announced the rollout of its “5G Fund for Rural America.” Reportedly, the fund’s $9 billion will be distributed to projects bringing 5G to rural communities over the next decade.