Hopping its latest hurdle, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (Broadband DATA) Act was signed into law late Monday by President Donald Trump. Now it just needs money.
The Broadband DATA Act is an initiative to improve the FCC's outdated broadband maps showing where high-speed Internet services are available. Trump's signing of the Act followed its unanimous passage in the US Senate earlier this month, and the passing of companion legislation in the US House on March 3.
The new law requires the FCC to issue rules relating to the collection of data about the availability of broadband services, and improve upon the accuracy of how that data is collected.
FCC will be tasked with issuing final rules no later than 180 days after the date of the Act's enactment related to the availability of terrestrial, fixed, fixed wireless, satellite and mobile broadband Internet service. The law also calls for the FCC to collect granular data for the development of accurate broadband coverage maps.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai applauded the signing of what's been a bipartisan initiative, but is now pressing for proper funding.
"At this point, it is vital for Congress to provide the FCC as soon as possible with the appropriations necessary to implement the Act," Pai said in a statement issued today. "Right now, the FCC does not have the funding to carry out the Act, as we have warned for some time."
If Congress does not act soon, "this well-intentioned legislation will have the unfortunate effect of delaying rather than expediting the development of better broadband maps," Pai warned.
USTelecom also called on Congress to fully fund the project, holding that future federal spending will be based "on the most accurate and granular map we've ever had. That's a big deal."
In a study of a pilot program released last August, USTelecom found that up to 38% of rural US locations in census blocks reported as "served" under the current FCC method are actually unserved by any pilot participants.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading, special to Broadband World News