Greg Walden Pushes for Accuracy in Broadband Mapping
Click here or on the picture above to watch Rep. Walden’s full opening statement.
Today, Greg Walden (R-Hood River) urged Congress to improve broadband mapping during an Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications Technology hearing entitled “Legislating to Connect America: Improving the Nation’s Broadband Maps.” Walden noted that while progress has been made on the issue, like in his bill the RAY BAUM’S Act, and by the FCC, there is much more work to be done. Walden said, “This is an issue I’ve been working on for two decades.”
“It’s past time to get accurate mapping data,” Walden said. “Take the community of Weston in eastern Oregon as an example. Mayor Jennifer Spurgeon describes their internet service as dial up, just without the modem noise. They frequently experience sub-megabit speeds. You can imagine they are surprised to learn they have 100-megabit service according to the FCC’s map.”
He went on to discuss the bipartisan progress that had been made while he was Chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, such as the President signing his bill, the RAY BAUM’s Act, into law. Walden’s bill improved methodology for the collection of mobile service coverage, access to easements, rights-of-way, and lease requests for developing communications equipment on Federal property, and improved the efficiency of spectrum allocations.
“As we continue our oversight of RAY BAUM’S Act as well as our efforts to spur broadband deployment in rural America, we must also ensure that the Universal Service program is efficiently and effectively reaching truly unserved areas,” said Walden. “I applaud Chairman Pai for his leadership on this front, proposing a Rural Digital Opportunity Fund using cost-efficient reverse auctions to better allocate limited Federal support.”
Walden added that it is imperative that the FCC relies on “accurate and sufficiently granular information when make these decisions. There are areas that we all know are unserved, and sufficiently precise data will help better reach these areas. Too often, the areas most in need of Federal broadband support get lost in the rush to dole out government funds, especially when program rules distort eligibility for some areas that are already adequately served. Without the best available data identifying parts of the country that need funds most, the vicious cycle of leaving rural Americans behind will continue.”
This hearing comes just days after Walden applauded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for awarding $67.6 million to expand rural broadband in Oregon.
“Expanding access to rural broadband in Oregon brings us closer to narrowing the urban/rural digital divide and ushers rural Oregonians into the 21st Century,” said Walden. “There are still too many Oregonians who lack access to reliable broadband internet service and thus access to things like telemedicine, remote learning, next generation emergency services, and video streaming because of insufficient Internet service.”