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FCC: No Clear Timeline Yet for Updated Broadband Maps

Federal Communications Commission Chair Jessica Rosenworcel recently responded to a congressional letter requesting a timeline for critical FCC broadband map updates. No dates were provided in the response.

The entrance to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission building in Washington, D.C.
The entrance to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission building in Washington, D.C.
The suspense continues about the ultimate status of the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) updated broadband coverage maps.

In a letter to U.S. Rep. Victoria Spartz, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel responded to Spartz's request for "a timeline for completion of broadband maps capturing the nation's access." While Rosenworcel provided a number of updates about the work that's going into the new maps, her letter doesn't share a timeline for the overall project or any individual items related to the project.

This timeline is critical given that new broadband deployment money from the federal infrastructure bill can't be given to states until the FCC maps are completed.

"As I have said before, the best time to undertake this effort was five years ago, but the second best time is right now — and we are proceeding with speed in order to avoid any further delay," Rosenworcel wrote in her letter.

Rosenworcel mentioned a delay in the letter related to the building of the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric, which is "specifically required in the Broadband DATA Act." Although the FCC selected a vendor for this component of the project, another vendor has officially contested this selection with the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The protest threatens to delay the building of the fabric for at least 100 days, unless legislative power is wielded.

"Under the law, we are required to wait for GAO to proceed any further with the fabric," wrote Rosenworcel. "If Congress wishes to identify a legislative way to expedite this process, the agency will provide whatever further information is necessary to assist."

A number of states have broadband mapping initiatives to inform their own connectivity programs and to contest FCC map data when it incorrectly suggests a particular geographic area is served and thus ineligible for federal funding.