March 22, 2023

Wyden, Barrasso and 12 Bipartisan Senators Urge FCC To Ensure Rural, Tribal Communities Receive Fair Share of Federal Broadband Grants

Senators Call for FCC to Update National Broadband Map Every Month, so Grants Are Targeted To Areas With The Greatest Need for High-Speed Internet

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., and 12 other bipartisan senators called on the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) to ensure rural and tribal communities in need receive their fair share of federal broadband grants, in a letter today. The members urged FCC to update the National Broadband Map each month, rather than every 6 months, so broadband grants will be awarded based on the most accurate information. 

The National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) is awarding $42.5 billion in funding to states under the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program created by Congress last year. NTIA is relying on the National Broadband Map to determine areas of need, but historically the federal government’s broadband maps have been plagued by inaccurate information.

“The future of America depends on access to high-speed internet. Working from incomplete and inaccurate data will tilt the distribution of federal resources away from rural states, undermining the efficacy of the BEAD program and shortchanging millions of Americans of critical investments in broadband,” the senators wrote. “We implore the FCC to take action to ensure that rural communities have the tools they need to close the digital divide and build a brighter future for all Americans.”

Also signing the letter were Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc., Sen. Cynthia Lummis, R-Wyo., Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Sen. Ben Ray Luján, D-N.M., Sen. Mike Crapo, R-Idaho, Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Sen. Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., and Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss. 

The senators noted that many states were unable to challenge the accuracy of the broadband map in time to meaningfully impact how BEAD funds are being distributed. As a result states that lack the resources to update inaccurate broadband information stand to receive less BEAD funding.

The full letter is available here.


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