Connect Americans Now: Efforts to improve broadband a positive step, more needed

Connect Americans Now
Farm Forum

Washington, D.C. – Connect Americans Now (CAN) Executive Director Richard T. Cullen released the following statement on the Federal Communication Commission’s (FCC) approval of the Digital Opportunity Data Collection and notice of proposed rulemaking on the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund on Aug. 1.

“CAN commends Chairman Pai and the FCC for taking this positive first step to acknowledge the flaws in the current mapping of the digital divide and for taking initial steps to improve the commission’s collection of broadband data,” said CAN Executive Director Richard Cullen. “While much more needs to be done, including more rapidly transitioning funding decisions away from Form 477 data, the changes advanced by the commission will help fix the mapping of the broadband gap in rural America.”

“In particular, solutions to move away from census blocks as a unit of measurement, augment survey data with usage data and to limit the variability of the Form 477’s ‘could provide’ language represent meaningful progress,” Cullen added. “But the FCC must do more. CAN urges the commission to more rapidly adopt Digital Opportunity Data Collection and continue to work to improve the accuracy and reliability of its broadband mapping. In the interim, CAN encourages the FCC to act to address the fundamental flaws in Form 477 since that data is still being used to inform funding decisions.”

“In addition to taking steps to address flaws in the mapping of nationwide broadband access, the FCC on Wednesday voted to advance the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, which would provide $20.4 billion over the next 10 years to increase broadband access in rural areas, by issuing a notice of proposed rulemaking.

“We applaud Chairman Pai and the FCC for their dedication and commitment to eliminating the digital divide,” Cullen said. “We encourage the commission to build on its momentum to eliminate the digital divide by issuing an additional notice of proposed rulemaking to clear the remaining regulatory hurdles to innovative technologies like TV white space that can help maximize investments and rapidly expand connectivity in rural America.”