Bipartisan broadband remapping legislation led by W.Va. pair

The two U.S. senators from West Virginia, Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., have joined a bipartisan group to introduce legislation which aims to produce better Federal Communications Commission (FCC) mapping dealing with broadband. 

Manchin and Capito, the co-chair of the Senate Broadband Caucus, was joined in their introduction of the legislation by Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., the other co-chair of the broadband caucus, and John Hoeven, R-N.D. 

In short, the legislation aims to include consumer-reported data along with data from state and local governments into consideration when mapping which areas have broadband and to take into consideration ways that broadband services are challenged. 

“Broadband connectivity has become vital in our 21st century economy, but too many West Virginians still don’t have access and are being left behind. That has to change,” Capito said in a news release. “Accurate broadband availability maps are essential for us to evaluate who has access and who does not. As a follow up to our letter to Chairman Pai last September, I am proud to join my fellow Senate Broadband Caucus co-chair to introduce a bill that builds upon our work to close the digital divide in rural America. This legislation will allow West Virginians to voluntarily provide valuable feedback about the actual mobile service in their communities; and ultimately, better connect our state and others across the country.” 

Manchin added in the release that the state's terrain plays a big part in its broadband issues. 

“With mountainous terrain and low population density, rural states like West Virginia rely on federal funding for much needed investments in broadband. In order to ensure that funding is directed toward the places that need it the most, we need to have more reliable coverage maps based on data that accurately depicts what people on the ground are experiencing,” Manchin said. “As the only member of Congress to formally challenge a federal broadband coverage map through the Mobility Fund Phase II challenge process, I know firsthand just how valuable public input can be in validating and supplementing the provider data that is used to draw these maps. This bill is a good first step, and I hope the FCC will take action to begin this rulemaking process.” 

Last month, West Virginia and Minnesota were chosen along with California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee and Utah by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to be part of a collaborative effort to attempt to update the national broadband availability map.


By:  Matt Combs
Source: Beckley Register-Herald