Today, the Federal Communications Commission published its 2020 Broadband Deployment Report, claiming once again that America’s digital divide “continues to narrow.” Public Knowledge contends that this finding — based on inaccurate broadband mapping data — is small comfort for the millions of Americans enduring this pandemic without high-speed broadband access — or any internet access at all.
The following may be attributed to Jenna Leventoff, Senior Policy Counsel at Public Knowledge:
“The FCC’s statement that broadband is being deployed to all Americans on a reasonable and timely basis is simply not true. Since the start of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s become clear to millions of Americans that they do not have the broadband they need for their families to complete schoolwork, work remotely, access virtual medical care, stream entertainment, or connect with loved ones, particularly all at once.
“The timing of this report seems duplicitous, as it minimizes a problem that has never been so apparent. Now is the time for the FCC to pass policies that ensure everyone has access to broadband — not for the agency to give itself a pat on the back while claiming success.
“More troubling, the FCC admits it based its report on faulty data that ‘overstates the coverage experienced by some consumers.’ Current data is self-reported by providers, who as recently as this month,admitted to overreporting the number of Americans they serve. The data also relies on the assumption that if one person within a census block is served, then everyone within that census block is served. That is simply false. In fact, this data collection methodology is so egregious that Congress enacted popular bi-partisan legislation to require the FCC to adopt new data collection methodologies.
“Overstatements of broadband availability and inaccurate data prevent both Congress and the FCC from enacting policies that ensure unserved areas get the necessary resources to provide broadband access to Americans no matter where they live. The FCC cannot continue to applaud its work when there is clearly so much left to be done.”
You may view our recent blog post, “The Consequences of a Broadband Deployment Report With Flawed Data,” for more information on why accurate mapping data is important.