The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on August 1 voted to approve reports, orders, and notices of propose rulemaking that taken together aim to improve mapping the availability of “fixed” broadband service – the type generally provided by cable and phone companies – in the U.S.

The newly established Digital Opportunity Data Collection will collect geospatial broadband service coverage maps, which in turn will “facilitate development of granular, high-quality fixed broadband deployment maps, which should improve the FCC’s ability to target support for broadband expansion through the agency’s Universal Service Fund programs,” the FCC said.

The order also will create a “process to collect public input on the accuracy of service providers’ broadband maps, facilitated by a crowd-sourcing portal that will gather input from consumers as well as state, local, and Tribal governments,” the agency said. A notice of proposed rulemaking adopted by the FCC today also aims to collect more accurate data on mobile wireless service coverage in the U.S.

The accuracy of U.S. broadband service maps has long been prominent as an issue of concerns among lawmakers, especially those whose states include rural areas that typically have not been as well served with advanced communications services that are more economical for providers to build out in more densely populated areas.

Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of senators debuted legislation to force the FCC to collect more granular broadband service data in the U.S., and allow governments and citizens to challenge the data and how the FCC presents it.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.