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What’s New in Digital Equity: Reactions to the New FCC Map

The release of new Internet availability maps earlier this month has elicited a wide response from U.S. senators, federal broadband officials, telecommunications industry groups, nonprofit organizations and others.

The doors at the entrance to the FCC building.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently unveiled a pre-production draft of the long-awaited overhaul of the nationwide broadband speed and availability maps that the organization keeps.

Although some details remain unclear, these maps may end up being more consequential than ever before, with a historic amount of funding to support high-speed Internet currently making its way from the federal government to the states. To this end, many stakeholders in American government and throughout local communities have released public reactions to the maps. This includes federal lawmakers, administrators within other federal agencies, Internet providers, nonprofit organizations and more.

Interested parties can find a selection of some of these reactions to the new FCC maps below.


Before reading the reactions, one would do well to understand the maps, and to that end, Pew Charitable Trusts — a global nongovernmental organization that seeks to improve public policy, help keep the public informed and support civic life — has created a primer.

The entire thing is very much worth reading, but some of the key points include that this update is required of the FCC by the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act; that the plan is to update the maps every six months; that they must go through several iterations before reflecting accurate broadband availability; that while much of the data remains self-reported by Internet service providers — a controversial methodology that has long been in place — there is a new process for folks to challenge what they report; and that the agency’s new process has the potential to create far more granular maps.

There is also a section here about potential concerns, which altogether make it a must-read resource for anyone striving to understand the maps, how they function, and why vested parties are commenting on them in certain ways. (Zack Quaintance)


Alan Davidson, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) administrator, made a statement regarding the FCC’s initial release of the broadband maps. NTIA and the FCC cooperate in relation to communications issues and solutions.

“The FCC’s new map provides the most precise assessment to date of Internet haves and have-nots,” Davidson stated. “This map is just a first draft, so we encourage consumers, companies and government leaders to dive into the data and give feedback to the FCC. Together, we can craft a map to guide us to our goal of connecting everyone in America.”

Davidson’s statement can be read in full here. (Julia Edinger)


The Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) — a group that represents the interest of small and innovative Internet providers — struck a cautiously optimistic tone with its statement.

“Congrats to the FCC, especially for such a quick turnaround on putting the first draft together,” the group wrote in its statement. “Our members are still going to have to kick the tires and work through the challenge processes, but that said, the FCC chairwoman, commissioners, the Broadband Data Task Force and our WISPA members who filed their Form 477 and BDC submissions are to be commended for their efforts to provide a more accurate picture of where broadband is and is not.”

WISPA represents roughly 1,000 providers of high-speed Internet or companies that they work with, and the group’s full statement can be found on the WISPA website. (Zack Quaintance)


NATE: The Communications Infrastructure Contractors Association is a nonprofit that represents companies within communications infrastructure construction, service and maintenance, which are obviously vital to the nation’s ongoing efforts to extend Internet to all residents.

NATE praised the FCC for this work while also speaking of the importance of what comes next, writing, “It is imperative that a diverse group of stakeholders in all 50 states now provide input on the draft of the National Broadband Map as accurate and timely coverage maps will provide the federal government the clarity and information to make more efficient, targeted use of funds so that NATE member companies can deploy broadband to the areas that truly need it, thereby helping to close the digital divide.”

NATE’s statement can be read in full via the association’s website. (Zack Quaintance)


The Wireless Infrastructure Association (WIA) is another group that represents the companies that make up the wireless infrastructure ecosystem, and that group also praised the work that has been done while stressing the importance of work to come.

The group’s statement came from WIA President and CEO Patrick Halley, who said, “While this is only the next step forward in an iterative process, it is a monumental milestone. Constructive public input in this process will be crucial to ensure that we have an accurate understanding of where broadband remains out of reach and where federal funds should be targeted.”

Halley’s full statement can be found on the WIA website. (Zack Quaintance)


Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of USTelecom — The Broadband Association, made a statement regarding the FCC’s initial release of the broadband maps. USTelecom is an organization representing telecommunications-related businesses.

“The first release of the new maps is a massive undertaking and we congratulate Chairwoman [Jessica] Rosenworcel and the commission on achieving this important milestone,” Spalter stated. “As the maps are refined over an ongoing, iterative process, USTelecom and its members will continue working closely with the FCC on this effort and we’re committed to getting this right to achieve Internet for all.”

Spalter’s statement can be read in full here. (Julia Edinger)


U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., ranking member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, made a statement about the FCC’s initial release of the broadband maps. Wicker was involved with the Broadband DATA Act that was signed into law in March 2020, which required the release of these new maps.

“These drafts are a good first step, but unfortunately for rural Americans, these maps are still flawed,” he stated. “We have already heard of reports that entire communities are missing from the new maps, undermining the success of the Broadband DATA Act. To ensure that no address is overlooked in the final version, I am calling on all Americans to check for their homes and businesses on the maps and participate in the FCC’s challenge process.”

Wicker’s statement can be read in full here. (Julia Edinger)


U.S. Rep. Bob Latta, R-Ohio, Republican leader of the Communications and Technology Subcommittee, also made a statement. Latta was also involved with the Broadband DATA Act.

“While this is a step in the right direction to build a more comprehensive broadband network to reach unserved and underserved households, significant improvements to these maps are still required,” Latta stated. “I urge residents in Ohio’s Fifth District to visit the FCC’s National Broadband Map online tool to correct information about their location and file challenges with the FCC if Internet services shown are not available at their location.”

Latta’s statement can be read in full here. (Julia Edinger)
Julia Edinger is a staff writer for Government Technology. She has a bachelor's degree in English from the University of Toledo and has since worked in publishing and media. She's currently located in Southern California.
Associate editor for <i>Government Technology</i> magazine.