Bipartisan group of senators urge FCC to improve accuracy of broadband maps

Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), Jerry Moran (R-KS), and Jon Tester (D-MT) urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to improve the accuracy of broadband coverage maps. They encouraged the FCC to review current legislative proposals introduced in Congress, including reforms requiring all broadband providers to submit data like “shapefiles” that is both granular and precise. 

“We believe that it is critical that any proposal offered by the Commission provide consumers, state, local and tribal government entities the opportunity to challenge erroneous coverage data. Such a process will help the Commission improve the accuracy of the data it receives. These proposals would provide the Commission with an effective framework to begin to replace its flawed census block-based system,” the senators wrote.

The FCC’s measurement of broadband access overestimates coverage. By the FCC’s measurement, if one subscriber in an area has broadband service, the entire area is considered covered. For example, FCC data shows 100 percent broadband access in Ferry County, WA, while Microsoft estimates coverage at 2 percent.

In April, Democratic members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee criticised FCC’s reliance on carrier-reported coverage data after it was revealed that Barrier Communications Corporation submitted inaccurate coverage data. The company claimed coverage for every census block in the states where it offered service to any census block, and at speeds of 940 Mbps.


Letter from Sens. Moore Capito, Schatz, Moran, Tester to Ajit Pai (July 11, 2019)

Dems Seek FCC Explanation of Faulty Broadband Coverage Data (Multichannel News, Apr. 3, 2019)

Microsoft study: Almost half of Americans lack access to broadband Internet (Speed Matters, Dec. 6, 2018)