HILL AWARDS GOLDEN FLEECE TO FEDERAL COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION FOR DELAYED RELEASE OF BROADBAND MAPS
Washington, October 15, 2021
Washington, D.C. - Rep. French Hill (AR-02) named the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as the latest recipient of his Golden Fleece Award for its delayed release of broadband maps.
"In March 2020, Arkansans were told that the FCC could 'radically improve' their broadband maps within a couple of months but here we are, eighteen months later, being told that we have another year to go," said Rep. Hill. "The FCC is offering no explanation for the delay, a timeline for completion, or even how the broadband maps will be developed. Central Arkansans and rural Americans should not be on the FCC's backburner, and the FCC needs to prioritize the new broadband maps."
In the letter to the Acting Chairwoman of the FCC, Jessica Rosenworcel, Rep. Hill wrote:
Dear Acting Chairwoman Rosenworcel:
I write to you today to inform you that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is the latest recipient of my monthly Golden Fleece award for its delayed release of broadband maps.
As you are aware, in 2020 Congress enacted the bipartisan Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act. The law provides $98 million to fund the FCC’s broadband mapping effort. The law also reforms the FCC’s broadband data collection and mapping process to create more accurate and granular broadband availability maps.
On March 10, 2020, during a hearing conducted by the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government (FSGG), you stated that the FCC can “radically improve” its broadband maps “within three-to-six months. This statement was restated on March 11, 2020, before the House Appropriations Committee’s FSGG Subcommittee. My fellow Arkansans depending on the new FCC broadband maps and I were disappointed when we heard that these maps would not be ready until 2022.
I request information from you as to why the new FCC broadband maps are delayed. I fear that delayed broadband maps will negatively impact the effective, efficient use of federal program dollars that rely on the broadband maps to ensure that federal dollars are used appropriately.
Access to broadband ensures that Americans and Arkansans have access to work, go to school, access telehealth, etc. Broadband has become an essential part of American life in the 21st century. I respectfully request that you provide the following information to my office by November 19, 2021:
1. Information on why the new broadband maps are delayed.
2. A detailed timeline of when the FCC will produce the completed new maps.
3. Detailed information on how the FCC will use funds from the DATA Act to develop the new broadband maps.
4. Information on how the FCC plans to work with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) on the broadband mapping efforts. This coordination is required by law.
5. Any actions you and the FCC plan to take expedite the already delayed broadband maps.
It is critical that the FCC uses the $98 million dollars that was appropriated to fund the new broadband maps appropriately and in a timely manner. States and localities must have detailed information so they can accurately use the $65 billion dollars. It is imperative that funding allocated to broadband is used well so we do not waste taxpayer money on an already expensive problem.
Arkansas is 41st in the nation for broadband access and still faces a pressing digital divide, where over 80% of the state lives in rural areas. I am concerned that delays in completing these maps harms the ability of my state to distribute critical broadband funds in an accurate and timely manner.
Member of Congress