The Broadband Deployment and Technological Availability (DATA) Act passed the United States Senate this week after the House of Representatives made changes earlier this month.
This bipartisan legislation will improve the accuracy of federal broadband maps so that electric cooperatives are able to secure funding to bring high-speed internet service to rural communities more easily. The Federal Communications Commission will collect more detailed data from broadband providers and also make it illegal for providers to knowingly provide false or incomplete information.
From NRECA’s coverage:
“Bridging the digital divide is impossible without accurate service maps showing who has broadband access and who doesn’t,” said NRECA CEO Jim Matheson. “The Broadband DATA Act charts a course for a more connected rural America and is a welcome bipartisan solution under the leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee. It builds on the success of more than 100 electric co-op rural broadband projects and injects much-needed accountability into the broadband mapping process.”
Co-op leaders have long known that national broadband maps do not adequately reflect the lack of access throughout rural America, said Kelly Wismer, NRECA’s legislative affairs director on broadband and telecommunications issues. The legislation, which contains key provisions that NRECA supported, will make it easier to identify areas that need service and make those communities eligible for federal funds.
President Trump is expected to sign the bill into law.