Michigan Lawmakers Make Bipartisan Push to Improve Broadband Mapping

Bowling Green, KY. (May 17, 2019) – Yesterday, U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg (MI-07) and Jack Bergman (MI-01) led a bipartisan group of their colleagues in urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to improve the accuracy of broadband availability maps to better identify unserved and underserved communities in Michigan.

Other state officials involved were Reps. Bill Huizenga (MI-02), John Moolenaar (MI-04), Paul Mitchell (MI-10), and Elissa Slotkin (MI-08).

Lawmakers did this by writing a letter to the head of the FCC insisting something to be done about the flawed broadband availability maps. Here is what the lawmakers wrote:

Dear Chairman Pai:                     

We are writing to you regarding the Federal Communications Commission’s ongoing review of its fixed and wireless broadband availability maps.  As the Commission contemplates future Universal Service Fund (USF) support mechanisms that could directly affect broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas in Michigan, we urge you to carefully address the Commission’s broadband availability maps.

 The Commission’s broadband availability maps are based largely upon whatever information may be received from providers through its Form 477 survey data collection.  Although the FCC’s database may represent the most consistent data collection mechanism and provide a complete repository of such information available today, there are several problems with the current maps.  Specifically, the maps are not granular enough; in the context of fixed broadband, an entire census block will appear as served even if service is offered to only one location within that census block.  This can result in denial of USF funding in such areas, leaving many locations without essential broadband service simply because they share a census block with a household considered as served.  We are additionally concerned that the provider-originated reports used to compose these maps are largely unvalidated.  The providers must certify the accuracy of their submitted reports, but the information verification processes used before funding or financing determinations are made can significantly vary—or, in many cases, such processes do not exist at all. 

So why is this important? Connected Nation’s program Connect Michigan is working to ensure that all can experience the benefits of broadband. Technology, especially widespread access, use and adoption of broadband, improves all areas of life.

Connect Michigan invites you to join us in changing communities and lives across Michigan.

Check out Connect Michigan here

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