Ernst: Access to quality broadband is essential for Iowa’s rural communities

Senator Ernst is building on her efforts to expand broadband access by supporting bipartisan legislation to improve data and better target resources in rural areas where they are needed most

WASHINGTON—Continuing her efforts to expand access to broadband in rural Iowa, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) is supporting bipartisan legislation aimed at improving the accuracy of broadband maps, which have proven to be drastically inaccurate in some instances in Iowa, so resources are targeted to areas where they are needed most. The bipartisan bill builds on Senator Ernst’s request to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to improve broadband mapping.

“Bad data will produce bad results. It’s important we have accurate and straightforward information on where broadband is working, and where it isn’t,” said Senator Joni Ernst. “For Iowa’s small businesses, families, and rural communities, access to quality broadband and high-speed internet is essential in the modern world. This bipartisan legislation will go a long way in improving data, helping target resources to areas most in need, and expanding access to broadband throughout our state.”

Background:

The FCC, which tracks data on broadband access across the country, drastically overstated the broadband access in Iowa in its 2018 Broadband Deployment Report. For example, in Chickasaw County, the FCC reported universal broadband access. However, usage data available from technology companies suggests that in reality only 5.9 percent of Chickasaw’s residents access the internet at broadband speeds.

The Broadband DATA Act, or the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act, would enhance the FCC’s data collection process and improve accuracy in its mapping. The bill aims to enable federal agencies to better target the areas most in need of funding, close the remaining broadband coverage gaps, and ensure improved accountability and transparency.

Senator Ernst has also put forward bipartisan legislation—known as the ACCESS Rural America Act—to cut regulatory red tape for rural telecommunications providers.

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