FCC chairman Ajit Pai signaled a plan for implementing the Broadband DATA Act will be voted on at the July 16 public meeting, but pointed out Congress has still not appropriated the money to pay for it.
The FCC had been working on its own effort to improve the collection of data that goes into determining where broadband is and isn't, but Pai pointed out in testimony for a June 24 FCC oversight hearing in the Senate Commerce Committee that the Broadband DATA Act prohibits it from tapping the Universal Service Administrative Company for that new mapping effort, so the FCC lacks the $65 million it will need to implement Congress' version.
"We want to work with you to appropriate this funding as soon as possible so we can move forward quickly to improve our nation’s broadband maps," he said. "In the meantime, the Commission will continue to work on rulemakings as appropriate (and allowed and funded), including the consideration of an Order and Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at our July open meeting as part of our work to adopt final rules by September’s statutory deadline."
Pai has conceded the FCC's broadband data collection needs improvement, something that has been a big issue on both sides of the aisle in Congress, with the pandemic putting an even brighter light on the digital divide and the need to close it.