Senate looks into accuracy of broadband maps

At a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday, Senators raised concerns over inaccurate FCC broadband maps, which are critical to unserved areas seeking federal broadband subsidies.

Part of the problem is that 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.

The other part of the problem is the self-reporting of coverage data by the industry. Last week, 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.

“We have to know where we are to figure out where we need to go,” said Rep. A. Donald McEachin (D-VA). “Instead of taking a victory lap for imaginary progress, the FCC needs to correct the record and explain how these apparent mistakes were made."  


Senate Tries to Get a Read on Broadband Mapping (Multichannel News, Apr. 10, 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)