Michael Bennet U.S. Senator for ColoradoMenu
U.S. Senator Michael Bennet (D-CO) and Congresswoman Abby Finkenauer (D-IA)’s Broadband Transparency and Accountability Act of 2019 reforms how the federal government verifies and shares data on affordable internet access across the country in order to hold internet companies accountable, bring transparency to broadband pricing for consumers, and help close the digital divide for rural America.
Today, poor federal data means that we do not know who in America has access to affordable, quality broadband and who does not. Since 2000, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has required internet service providers (ISPs) to report, via Form 477, the census blocks in which they offer service. This data helps determine which areas receive federal support to close the “digital divide.” The current reporting process, however, is deeply flawed.
For example, if one home or business in a census block is served, the entire census block is considered served. Consequently, ISPs often report service that meets the requirements for a census block to be considered served by connecting just one location in that block. A recent Government Accountability Office (GAO) report found that broadband availability data gathered by the FCC from reports compiled by ISPs “does not accurately or completely capture broadband access.” Since federal dollars cannot be deployed to areas already being served—a policy intended to prevent “overbuilding”—this inaccurate data restricts competition and inflates prices in many rural areas across the country. Additionally, data reported through Form 477 is not available to the public in a readily accessible format, and no good process exists to verify or challenge its accuracy.
The Broadband Transparency and Accountability Act fixes these problems by reforming how broadband companies report, and the federal government verifies and shares, data on the availability of affordable, quality broadband across the country.
Expanded reporting requirements and better data collection about which homes and businesses have high-quality broadband and which do not would allow us to better target federal dollars to the areas that need it most.
The bill requires internet companies to report address-level data to the FCC, instead of by census block, to provide a more complete picture of broadband access in America. It also calls for new data on service attributes including speed, latency, and denials of service during high-volume hours. Finally, it requires the FCC to incorporate data from broader sources, including other federal agencies and local governments.Return to Top