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US senators seek more complete broadband map

US senators seek more complete broadband map

May 31st, 2018 by News Tribune in News

Both of Missouri's U.S. senators have signed a letter urging the Federal Communications Commission to allow more time for the agency to create a map that will be used to roll out broadband services to communities across the country.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt, a Republican, and U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, signed the letter Wednesday along with 27 other senators from both parties urging FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to allow an additional 90 days to gather data for the map, reach out to stakeholders and respond to groups saying the map is inaccurate. The FCC will use the map to determine which areas will receive $4.53 billion in subsidies over 10 years to build 4G LTE networks in under-served parts of the country.

The FCC rolled the map out in February, which is designed to allow users to search for available broadband options by address and county. Critics quickly argued that the map offered only a slight improvement over the FCC's previous map. Democratic commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel wrote in a dissenting statement at the time of the map's unveiling that the map was riddled with errors.

"I looked up my house and can tell you with good authority it lists service that is not available at my location," Rosenworcel wrote in the statement.

In Wednesday's letter, the senators note, if the map is inaccurate, their communities could be denied federal funds to build broadband infrastructure for 10 years. This could exacerbate the digital divide between urban and rural communities that miss out on the funding, the letter says.

"This map is intended to reflect areas that lack unsubsidized mobile 4G LTE service, but it unfortunately falls short of an accurate depiction of areas in need of universal service support," the letter says.