WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS), Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator Gary Peters (D-MI), and Senator John Thune (R-SD), Chair of the Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, introduced the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. The legislation would improve the accuracy of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband availability maps by improving the process by which broadband data is collected.

“Broadband is key to keeping rural America competitive in the 21st century and beyond,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation will help close the digital divide with granular data collection for more accurate mapping so that we can bring high-speed internet to every family, regardless of their zip code.” 

“The FCC’s broadband maps are inaccurate, disadvantaging every taxpayer and rural areas across the country, including many places in my home state,” Wicker said. “This legislation is an important step to ensure we get the most accurate coverage maps from the FCC and to help close the digital divide between rural and urban areas.”    

“Connecting a community to high-speed broadband opens new pathways for Michiganders to access educational resources, receive the health care they need or run a business,” Peters said. “By updating the FCC’s process for collecting broadband data, this bipartisan legislation aims to ensure we better assess broadband availability. With more accurate broadband maps, we can work to close the digital divide in rural and urban communities across Michigan.”

“Broadband maps are a critical tool in our effort to close the digital divide in rural areas like those throughout my home state of South Dakota, but they are only as good as the data that’s used to produce them,” Thune said. “Since data collection is a constantly evolving process, this bipartisan legislation would take the necessary steps to ensure the information that’s depended upon for accurate broadband mapping is as up to date and effective as possible. It’s important for Congress and federal agencies to stay at the forefront of this digital revolution, which is why I’m glad to support this bill, and I encourage my colleagues to do the same.”  

 Specifically, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act:

  • Requires the FCC to collect granular service availability data from wired, fixed wireless, and satellite broadband providers.
  • Requires strong parameters for service availability data collected from mobile broadband providers to ensure accuracy.
  • Asks the FCC to consider whether to collect verified coverage data from state, local, and tribal governments, as well as from other entities.
  • Creates a process for consumers, state, local, and Tribal governments, and other groups to challenge FCC maps with their own data, and requires the FCC to determine how to structure the process without making it overly burdensome on challengers.

The bill is endorsed by NTCA-The Rural Broadband Association, USTelecom, NCTA-The Internet Cable Association, Competitive Carriers Association, and CTIA. For the full bill text, click here.

As a member of the Senate Commerce Committee and co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Broadband Caucus, Klobuchar has long championed closing the digital divide and expanding broadband internet connection to all corners of the U.S. Earlier this month, Klobuchar and Senator Shelley Moore Capito’s (R-WV) legislation to improve broadband connectivity passed the Senate. The Measuring the Economic Impact of Broadband Act would require the Bureau of Economic Analysis, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Technology, to conduct a study of the effects of the digital economy and the adoption of broadband deployment on the U.S. economy. Last month, Klobuchar and Wicker’s Broadband Interagency Coordination Act passed the Senate Commerce Committee. It would direct the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to coordinate and share information on their broadband deployment efforts so federal funds are used effectively to target unserved and underserved areas.

In March, Klobuchar, Capito, and Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and John Hoeven (R-ND) introduced bipartisan legislation to improve the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) broadband coverage maps. The Improving Broadband Mapping Act directs the FCC to initiate a rulemaking to consider using consumer-reported data and state and local data from government entities to improve broadband mapping accuracy while also considering ways that both fixed and mobile coverage data can be challenged. The bill will help close the digital divide by giving policymakers more accurate data on broadband coverage nationwide. Klobuchar and Wicker also led the Precision Agriculture Connectivity Act, which was signed into law as part of the 2018 Farm Bill. The bipartisan legislation will identify gaps in coverage and encourage broadband deployment on farms and ranchland.