Inaccurate maps are delaying the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s broadband funding

Nearly nine months after Congress passed President Biden’s, the federal government has yet to allocate some of the $42.5 billion to fund legislation earmarked for expanding broadband service in underserved communities, it said . By law, the Commerce Department can’t release that money until the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) releases new coverage maps that more accurately show homes and businesses that don’t have access to high-speed Internet.

Inaccurate coverage data has long frustrated federal government efforts to address the rural broadband divide. The previous system that the FCC used to map Internet availability relied on Form 477 filings from service providers. These documents are known for their . In 2020, Congress required the FCC, under the . However, lawmakers did not fund the mandate until early 2021, and in August of the same year the commission published its .

After a dispute between contractors, the FCC will release its latest maps sometime in mid-November. Once available, both consumers and businesses will have the opportunity to challenge the agency’s data. As a result of this extra step, funding from the broadband plan likely won’t reach ISPs until late 2023, according to one analyst The diary interviewed.

“We understand the urgency of making broadband available to everyone quickly,” said Alan Davidson, the department chief responsible for allocating the funds at the Department of Commerce diary. “We also know we have a chance here and we want to make sure we get it right.”

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