Wicker, Manchin Urge FCC to Expand Broadband Access Using Accurate Coverage Maps
Senators call on FCC to promote new broadband deployment in a manner that accounts for the real-world experiences in rural America

From:  News Release   4/13/17   GCN

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., today sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the newly-created Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force to ensure the broadband coverage data it collects is consistent, reliable, and robust. The Senators noted that accurate data that reflects the real mobile coverage experience of consumers in rural America is critical to expanding rural broadband access.
 
“I commend the Commission’s efforts to expand broadband access to rural America,” said Wicker. “Collecting and using accurate coverage data are important steps to ensuring every American has access to broadband and the opportunities it provides, no matter where they live.”
 
“Coverage data that accounts for the actual consumer experience in our rural communities is a necessary step in the effort to close the digital divide,” said Manchin. “I look forward to working with the FCC to ensure this funding accurately and effectively targets the unserved and underserved communities in West Virginia and throughout rural America.”
 
Earlier this year, the FCC answered Senators Wicker and Manchin’s bipartisan call to move forward with Mobility Fund II, which will provide mobile broadband service to unserved and underserved rural areas. Wicker and Manchin were joined by 28 Senators in calling on the FCC to prioritize new mobile broadband deployment in these communities.
 
Read the full letter to the FCC below, or click here.
 
April 12, 2017           
 
The Honorable Ajit Pai, Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554
 
Dear Chairman Pai:
 
We applaud the creation of the Rural Broadband Auctions Task Force. If implemented correctly, the Mobility Fund II (MF-II) and Connect America Fund Phase II (CAF-II) auctions are an opportunity for real progress in the Commission’s efforts to close the digital divide. We write to urge that an accurate understanding of mobile broadband coverage for consumers in rural America guide the Task Force’s efforts to implement these upcoming auctions.
 
The MF-II and CAF-II auctions should promote new broadband deployment in unserved and underserved areas in a manner that accounts for the real-world experiences of those living in the most remote parts of the country. To ensure the limited funding available for these auctions is allocated efficiently and responsibly, the Task Force should work to ensure that coverage data is collected in a consistent and robust way.
 
More importantly, the Commission’s efforts must accurately target every area that is in need of support so that no one is left behind. Residents, first responders, businesses, public institutions, and travelers in rural areas need reliable mobile broadband access. To that end, collecting and using reliable, standardized coverage data are critical steps toward ensuring consumers in the most rural and remote communities have access to the comparable services that Congress mandated for Universal Service.
 
We fully support the Commission’s objective to promote broadband deployment throughout rural America and look forward to continuing to work with you to close the digital divide.