House Commerce Committee GOP leaders and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai are double-teaming other lawmakers to get money for improved broadband maps. They
asked House appropriators to find funding to implement the Broadband DATA Act that was signed into law in March as future appropriations bills are considered.
“Once this law is implemented and funded, FCC and other agencies will be able to rely on accurate broadband maps when they distribute federal funds for broadband deployment, which will lead to a more efficient use of federal dollars,” wrote the Republican committee members, led by House Energy and Commerce Ranking Chairman Greg Walden of Oregon and Subcommittee on Communications and Technology Ranking Member Bob Latta of Ohio.
According to a Congressional Budget Office estimate, the bill would require appropriating $25 million in 2021, and $9 million annually from 2022 through 2028. The money would go toward issuing rules, establishing reporting requirements, and hiring contractors to establish a comprehensive broadband database and maps.
Pai has told lawmakers the Commission needs several million dollars to fulfill the law, aimed at ensuring the maps accurately pinpoint where broadband is available and where it is lacking. Pai asked for funding in March.
House Democrats, too, would like to see more money go towards funding more accurate broadband maps. They included some funding toward that end in their Heroes Act coronavirus relief package, Inside Towers reported.
Pai told Congress he anticipates the agency will move forward with a rulemaking on mapping issues “in the coming weeks.” But without funding, the legislation will delay the development of improved broadband maps, he noted.