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1st Session SENATE Report
Calendar No. 441
BROADBAND DATA IMPROVEMENT ACT
R E P O R T
COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND
October 24, 2007.--Ordered to be printed
SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
one hundred tenth congress
DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii, Chairman
TED STEVENS, Alaska, Vice-Chairman
JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West JOHN McCAIN, Arizona
Virginia TRENT LOTT, Mississippi
JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas
BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine
BARBARA BOXER, California GORDON H. SMITH, Oregon
BILL NELSON, Florida JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada
MARIA CANTWELL, Washington JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, New Jersey JIM DeMINT, South Carolina
MARK PRYOR, Arkansas DAVID VITTER, Louisiana
THOMAS CARPER, Delaware JOHN THUNE, South Dakota
CLAIRE McCASKILL, Missouri
AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
Margaret Cummisky, Staff Director and Chief Counsel
Lila Helms, Deputy Staff Director and Policy Director
Jean Toal Eisen, Senior Advisor and Deputy Policy Director
Christine Kurth, Republican Staff Director and General Counsel
Paul J. Nagle, Republican Chief Counsel
110th Congress Report
1st Session 110-204
BROADBAND DATA IMPROVEMENT ACT
October 24, 2007.--Ordered to be printed
Mr. Inouye, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and
Transportation, submitted the following
[To accompany S. 1492]
The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to
which was referred the bill (S. 1492) to improve the quality of
Federal and State data regarding the availability and quality
of broadband services and to promote the deployment of
affordable broadband services to all parts of the Nation,
having considered the same, reports favorably thereon with an
amendment (in the nature of a substitute) and recommends that
the bill (as amended) do pass.
Purpose of the Bill
The purpose of S. 1492 is to improve the quality of data
collected at State and Federal levels regarding the
availability and robustness of broadband services and to
promote the deployment of affordable broadband services to all
parts of the Nation.
Background and Needs
The Nation's success in the information age increasingly
depends on a strong, advanced communications infrastructure
that is accessible to all Americans. These capabilities not
only allow individuals to communicate and exchange information
but also serve as the platform on which much of entertainment,
commerce, and communication will take place.
For too many Americans, robust broadband technology is either
not available or too expensive. Since 2001, the United States
has slipped from fourth to fifteenth in per capita broadband
use, according to statistics kept by the Organization for
Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). According to
another metric, from the International Telecommunications Union
(ITU), known as the Digital Opportunity Index, which includes
11 different variables of technology development, including the
cost of connectivity relative to per capita income, the United
States now ranks twenty-first.
Although the U.S. Department of Defense Advanced Research
Projects Agency developed the Internet and provided the Nation
with a platform for leading the world in Internet technology,
the next generation of Internet applications may not be
developed here without the right policies. Nations with more
substantial broadband infrastructures may be home to the next
wave of digital research and development because they could be
better positioned to reap the economic benefits of the
broadband era. Some experts estimate that universal broadband
adoption would add $500 billion to the Nation's economy and
create 1.2 million new jobs.
The lack of comprehensive data regarding the availability and
penetration of broadband in the United States has hampered the
development of effective policies to promote widespread access
to affordable broadband service. As the General Accountability
Office (GAO) noted in May 2006:
[O]ne of the difficulties of assessing the gaps in
deployment and where to target any federal support is
that it is hard to know exactly where broadband
infrastructure has not been deployed. FCC does collect
data on the geographic extent of providers' service,
but these data are not structured in a way that
accurately illustrates the extent of deployment to
residential users. Without accurate, reliable data to
aid in analysis of the existing deployment gaps, it
will be difficult to develop policy responses toward
gaps in broadband availability. This could hinder our
country's attainment of universally available
broadband. And as the industry moves quickly to even
higher bandwidth broadband technologies, we risk
leaving some of the most rural places in America
\1\United States Government Accountability Office, Broadband
Deployment Is Extensive throughout the United States, but It Is
Difficult to Assess the Extent of Deployment Gaps in Rural Areas, p.
38, GAO-06-426 (May 2006) (GAO Broadband Deployment Report).
Current broadband data collection efforts
Efforts by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to
measure the speed and quality of broadband deployment across
the United States originated after Congress enacted of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996. Under section 706 of that Act,
the FCC is required to conduct regular inquiries concerning the
availability of advanced telecommunications capability and to
determine whether advanced telecommunications capability is
being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely
fashion. If such determination is negative, the statute further
requires the FCC to ``take immediate action to accelerate
deployment'' by ``removing barriers to infrastructure
investment'' and ``promoting competition.''
Pursuant to this direction, the FCC generally has defined
broadband services as ``those services that deliver an
information carrying capacity in excess of 200 kbps in at least
one direction.''\2\ Upon adopting a 200 kilobits per second
(kbps) standard, the FCC concluded that such speed was ``enough
to provide the most popular forms of broadband--to change web
pages as fast as one can flip through the pages of a book and
to transmit full-motion video'' and further noted that ``as
technologies evolve, the concept of broadband will evolve with
it: we may consider today's `broadband' to be narrowband when
tomorrow's technologies are deployed and consumer demand for
higher bandwidth appears on a larger scale.''\3\
\2\Development of Nationwide Broadband Data to Evaluate Reasonable
and Timely Deployment of Advanced Services to All Americans,
Improvement of Wireless Broadband Subscribership Data, and Development
of Data on Interconnected Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)
Subscribership, Notice of Proposed Rulemaking at para. 1, n. 2, WC
Docket No. 07-38, FCC 07-17 (rel. April 16, 2007) (noting that services
with an information capacity of 200 kbps in one direction also are
described as ``high speed services'' in the FCC's Section 706 Reports,
while services supporting an information capacity of 200 kbps in both
directions are called ``advanced services'').
\3\Inquiry Concerning the Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications
Capability to All Americans in a Reasonable and Timely Fashion, and
Possible Steps to Accelerate Such Deployment Pursuant to Section 706 of
the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Report, 14 FCC 2d 2398 at
para.para.20, 25, CC Docket No. 98-146, FCC 99-5 (rel. Feb. 2, 1999).
Following adoption of a technical standard for broadband,
the FCC followed up in 2000 with an order establishing rules to
facilitate the collection of basic information from providers
regarding the deployment of broadband services and to create a
standardized form (FCC Form 477).\4\ In establishing a regular
and consistent survey of broadband deployment, the FCC
emphasized the value of its approach noting that ``only a
comprehensively imposed, mandatory data collection effort will
provide us with a set of data of uniform quality and
reliability.'' In 2004, the Commission extended its data
collection efforts for another 5 years and made certain
improvements to the FCC Form 477 requirements which included
collecting information about higher speed broadband connections
offered by providers.\5\
\4\Local Competition and Broadband Reporting, Report and Order, WC
Docket No. 04-141, 19 FCC Rcd 7717, 7724, para.para.11 et seq. (2000).
In addition to broadband, the data collection order also required
providers to submit data relevant to assessing the status of
competition in the market for local telecommunications services.
\5\Local Telephone Competition and Broadband Reporting, Report and
Order, WC Docket No. 04-141, 19 FCC Rcd 22340 (2004).
Specifically, the FCC modified its Form 477 to require filers
to determine what percentage of their broadband or high-speed
connections are faster than 200 kbps in both directions, and to
categorize these connections into five ``speed tiers'' based on
the information transfer rate in the connection's faster
direction: (1) greater than 200 kbps and less than 2.5 megabits
per second (mbps); (2) greater than or equal to 2.5 mbps and
less than 10 mbps; (3) greater than or equal to 10 mbps and
less than 25 mbps; (4) greater than or equal to 25 mbps and
less than 100 mbps; and (5) greater than or equal to 100 mbps.
At the same time, the FCC also declined requests of some
commenters to require reporting of information reflecting the
actual number of broadband connections in a zip code or some
other Census boundary and reporting about the price of
broadband service offerings.\6\
\6\Id. at para. 28, 29.
Since FCC Form 477 was adopted in 2000, broadband service
providers have submitted data 14 times. These data have been
relied upon by the FCC not only in its twice yearly reports on
the availability of high-speed Internet access services but
also as part of its statutorily-required Section 706 Report
which assesses whether advanced telecommunications capability
is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely
fashion. To date, the FCC has issued four Section 706 Reports
and has concluded in each report that broadband is being
deployed in a reasonable andtimely basis to all Americans.
Without additional information, however, it is difficult to understand
the conflict between the FCC's data and data from the OECD and the ITU.
Some critics have questioned the FCC's findings and have
focused on the lack of granularity afforded by the FCC's
reliance on information that merely requires providers to list
those 5-digit zip codes where they have at least one broadband
subscriber. As a result, under the FCC's current methodology,
if one subscriber in a zip code receives broadband, the FCC
assumes that broadband service is available from that provider
throughout the 5-digit zip code area. While this methodology
has led the FCC to report that 99 percent of the U.S.
population lives in the 99 percent of zip codes where broadband
is available, these figures have been criticized as overstating
actual levels of broadband deployment and actual levels of
competition among providers, particularly in rural and other
hard-to-serve areas. In May 2006, a report from the GAO
highlighted these concerns by comparing FCC data to
comprehensive data collected in Kentucky by a public-private
alliance known as ConnectKentucky. As the GAO noted:
Based on our analysis, we believe that the use of
subscriber indicators at the zip-code level to imply
availability, or deployment, may overstate
terrestrially based deployment. We were able to check
these findings for one state--Kentucky--where
ConnectKentucky, a state alliance on broadband, had
done an extensive analysis of its broadband deployment.
ConnectKentucky officials shared data with us
indicating that approximately 77 percent of households
in the state had broadband access available as of mid-
2005. In contrast, we used population data within all
zip codes in Kentucky, along with FCC's 477 zip-code
data for that State, and determined that, according to
FCC's data, 96 percent of households in Kentucky live
in zip codes with broadband service at the end of 2004.
Thus, based on the experience in Kentucky, it appears
that FCC's data may overstate the availability and
competitive deployment of nonsatellite broadband.\7\
\7\GAO Broadband Deployment Report at 17; see also United States
Government Accountability Office, Telecommunications: Challenges to
Assessing and Improving Telecommunications for Native Americans on
Tribal Lands, GAO-06-189 (Jan. 2006) (noting that the 477 data do not
provide a full description of broadband services for certain segments
of the population, such as Native Americans residing on tribal lands).
In addition to changes that would improve the granularity
of deployment data, some critics of current data gathering
practices also have called for revisions to the FCC's current
200 kbps definition for broadband. In their view, continuing to
assess the pace of broadband deployment against a technical
standard created in 1999 ignores the significant changes that
have occurred over the past eight years and contributes to our
failure to keep up with other industrialized economies like
Japan and Korea, where consumer broadband connections of 100
mbps are not uncommon. At a minimum, such a consideration
should include changes to current speed tier data to better
measure deployment against the quality of broadband
connections--including our ability to keep pace with other
industrialized nations vis a vis the speed and prices of
consumer broadband connections--and that also provide consumers
with more meaningful information about the capabilities of
higher-speed broadband connections, such as the connection
speeds required to reliably transmit high-definition video and
the actual average throughput received by subscribers.
In response to the criticism about current broadband data,
the FCC released a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) seeking
ways to improve its overall data collection on April 16, 2007.
Specifically, the FCC asks for comment regarding what it can do
to ensure that it receives sufficient information about the
availability and deployment of broadband services nationwide,
particularly in rural and other hard-to-serve areas, including
tribal lands. The FCC also requested information about how it
can improve the data about wireless broadband Internet access
services that it currently collects on FCC Form 477, whether it
should modify the current 200 kbps standard for broadband, and
how to collect information about subscribership to
interconnected voice over Internet Protocol service. It is
unclear when the Commission may act on these matters.
Other Federal and State sources also can help in improving
our understanding of the pace and quality of broadband
deployment. At the Federal level, data collected by the Census
Bureau, which has been helpful in tracking levels of telephone
subscribership, could be updated for an Internet age to better
identify the pace of broadband deployment and remaining
obstacles to residential adoption. Similarly, understanding
patterns in computer ownership, broadband use, device
attachment, termination fees, and bundling practices could
improve understanding of demand for broadband services. Further
understanding will come from studying the demographics of areas
without broadband service and the usage patterns of distinct
user communities, like small businesses.
In addition, a national broadband policy should support and
assist State efforts to work cooperatively at a local level in
identifying areas where deployment or adoption of broadband may
be lagging and in tailoring solutions to meet the needs of
local communities. Kentucky provides just one example of such
an approach where a State broadband alliance (ConnectKentucky)
was created to undertake a broadband deployment and adoption
plan. As part of that initiative, ConnectKentucky created
detailed broadband inventory maps using Geographic Information
System mapping technology and grassroots data collection via
community technology leadership teams and cooperating broadband
providers. These community teams also worked to develop
community-specific plans to increase demand for broadband
technology, and thereby make the community more attractive to
potential broadband providers. Throughout the process,
ConnectKentucky worked closely with broadband providers and
respected their concerns about proprietary and confidential
information. Following successes in Kentucky, other States are
initiating similar initiatives which should be supported and
coordinated at the Federal level to encourage consistency.
Improved data at both the Federal and State level will
provide support for policies that will expedite the deployment
and adoption of broadband. Moreover, access to a more accurate
picture of the state of broadband availability will be useful
for providers seekingto enter markets and consumers interested
in taking advantage of broadband services.
At the Executive Session for S. 1492, Chairman Inouye
offered an amendment in the nature of a substitute to clarify
the broadband definitions used by the FCC and to prevent the
disclosure of confidential information provided by broadband
Summary of Provisions
S. 1492, the Broadband Data Improvement Act, will improve
the quality of Federal and State data regarding the
availability and deployment of broadband services in order to
promote the deployment of affordable broadband services to all
parts of the Nation.
The bill finds that the deployment and adoption of
broadband has enhanced economic development, public safety,
health care and educational opportunities. Moreover, continued
progress in the deployment and adoption of broadband is vital
to ensuring that the United States remains competitive and
continues to create business and job growth. Improving Federal
data regarding the state of broadband deployment and adoption
will assist in the development of broadband technology across
all regions of the Nation. In addition, the Federal government
should encourage complementary State efforts to improve
broadband data and public and private sector partnerships to
support the continued growth of broadband services.
The bill would require the FCC to reevaluate its current
200 kbps standard for broadband. It also would require the FCC
to revise its existing broadband reporting requirements to
identify service tiers which can be used by consumers to
reliably receive high-definition video content. It would update
section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 to require
that the FCC annually inquire into the availability of
broadband. As part of this effort, the FCC would be required to
compile a list of unserved areas and, using Census Bureau data,
study the population, population density, and average per
capita income for each area.
To improve data regarding the demand for broadband, the
bill would direct the Secretary of Commerce, in consultation
with the FCC, to expand the American Community Survey conducted
by the Bureau of the Census to elicit information about
residential household computer use and subscription to dial-up
or broadband Internet service.
The bill also would require the GAO to study and evaluate
additional broadband metrics or standards to provide consumers
with better information about the cost and capability of their
broadband connection and to better compare the deployment and
penetration of broadband. GAO would be required to issue a
report to Congress within one year. The bill also would require
the Office of Advocacy within the Small Business Administration
to conduct a study evaluating the impact of broadband speed and
price on small businesses. The Office of Advocacy would be
required to issue a report to Congress within one year.
To develop more granular data regarding the availability of
broadband at a local level, the bill would create a matching
grant program to be administered by the Secretary of Commerce.
This program would assist States in entering into public-
private partnerships that would provide each State with a
baseline assessment of broadband deployment. These grants would
be used to collect data and create a geographic inventory map
of broadband service in each State in order to identify any
gaps in service. The bill would authorize $40 million per year
for five years for these grants.
The Broadband Data Improvement Act was introduced by
Senator Inouye on May 24, 2007. Senators Dorgan, Pryor,
Cantwell, Klobuchar, and Kerry are original cosponsors.
Senators Nelson (FL), Obama, Carper, Boxer, Rockefeller, and
Clinton are also cosponsors. On April 24, 2007, the Committee
held a hearing entitled ``Communications, Broadband and
Competitiveness: How Does the U.S. Measure Up?'' On July 19,
2007, the Committee considered the bill in an open Executive
Session. Chairman Inouye offered an amendment in the nature of
a substitute. The substitute was adopted by voice vote. The
Committee, without objection, ordered that S. 1492 be reported.
In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget
August 27, 2007.
Hon. Daniel K. Inouye,
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1492, the Broadband
Data Improvement Act.
If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Tyler
Peter R. Orszag.
S. 1492--Broadband Data Improvement Act
Summary: S. 1492 would establish a federal grant program to
support states' efforts to improve broadband communications
service. It would require the Federal Communications Commission
(FCC) to collect detailed data from broadband Internet
companies. The bill would direct the Government Accountability
Office to study broadband standards in the United States, as
well as the availability and quality of broadband offerings in
the United States and other countries. S. 1492 also would
require the Small Business Administration to evaluate the
impact of the speed and price of broadband service on small
Based on information from affected agencies and assuming
appropriation of the necessary amounts, CBO estimates that
implementing S. 1492 would cost $202 million over the 2008-2012
period. Enacting S. 1492 would not affect direct spending or
S. 1492 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined
in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) and would impose no
cost on state, local, or tribal governments.
S. 1492 would impose a private-sector mandate, as defined
in UMRA, on providers of broadband that currently submit
broadband data reports to the FCC. Based on information from
the FCC and industry sources, CBO estimates that the aggregate
direct cost of complying with the mandate would fall below the
annual threshold established by UMRA for private-sector
mandates ($131 million in 2007, adjusted annually for
Estimated cost to the Federal Government: The estimated
budgetary impact of S. 1492 is shown in the following table.
The costs of this legislation fall within budget function 370
(commerce and housing credit).
By fiscal year, in millions of
2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION
State Broadband Data and
Development Grant Program:
Authorization Level......... 40 40 40 40 40
Estimated Outlays........... 25 40 50 45 40
Studies and Reports:
Estimated Authorization 2 0 0 0 0
Estimated Outlays........... 1 1 0 0 0
Estimated Authorization 42 40 40 40 40
Estimated Outlays........... 26 41 50 45 40
Basis of estimate: For this estimate, CBO assumes that S.
1492 will be enacted near the start of fiscal year 2008 and
that the necessary amounts will be appropriated for each fiscal
State broadband data and development grant program
Section 6 would authorize the appropriation of $40 million
annually over the 2008-2012 period for a grant program to
support statewide initiatives to improve broadband service.
Such grants would be used to measure, monitor, and expand the
availability and use of broadband services. Based on historical
spending patterns for similar activities, CBO estimates that
the proposed grants would cost $25 million in 2008 and $200
million over the 2008-2012 period, assuming appropriation of
the specified amounts.
Studies and reports
S. 1492 would require certain agencies to complete a
variety of studies and reports related to broadband service.
Based on information from the affected agencies, CBO estimates
that fully funding those activities would cost $2 million over
the next two years, assuming appropriation of the necessary
Estimated impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments:
S. 1492 contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined in
UMRA and would impose no cost on State, Local, or Tribal
Estimated impact on the private sector: S. 1492 would
impose a private-sector mandate, as defined in UMRA, because it
would direct the FCC to revise its rule that requires providers
of broadband services to report certain data. Under the bill,
broadband providers would likely have to submit data on
broadband availability and connections within nine-digit zip-
code areas, instead of by five-digit zip codes as is currently
required. According to the FCC, broadband providers currently
transmit data electronically, and CBO assumes that the method
of transmission would not change. Providers may incur
additional costs, however, to organize their data based on the
nine-digit zip code. According to industry sources, a large
portion of broadband providers, maintaining data for roughly 58
million subscribers, already record information in this way.
Consequently, CBO estimates that the incremental costs incurred
by the industry to comply with the mandate would fall below the
annual threshold for private-sector mandates. Depending on how
the bill's requirements are implemented, however, the costs to
the private sector could vary substantially.
Estimate prepared by: Federal Costs: Tyler Kruzich; Impact
on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Elizabeth Cove; Impact
on the Private Sector: Patrice Gordon.
Estimate approved by: Theresa A. Gullo, Chief, State and
Local Government Cost Estimates Unit, Budget Analysis Division.
Regulatory Impact Statement
In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the
legislation, as reported:
NUMBER OF PERSONS COVERED
S. 1492 is intended to improve the quality of Federal and
State data regarding the availability and deployment of
broadband services. The bill affects providers of broadband
services already subject to FCC broadband reporting
obligations. As such, there is not a significant increase in
the number of persons subject to FCC reporting requirements.
S. 1492 would not have an adverse economic impact on the
The reported bill would have no significant impact on the
personal privacy of United States citizens.
The reported bill should not significantly increase
paperwork requirements for individuals and businesses.
Section 1. Short title
Section 1 would establish the short title as the
``Broadband Data Improvement Act''.
Section 2. Findings
Section 2 would make findings related to the bill.
Section 3. Improving federal data on broadband
Section 3(a) would require the FCC to issue an order in 120
days which would: revise or update, if necessary, the existing
definitions of advanced telecommunications capability, or
broadband; identify tiers of broadband service that would
provide a substantial majority of consumers with the ability to
reliably transmit full-motion, high definition video; and
revise reporting requirements.
Section 3(b) would direct the FCC to exempt an entity from
the reporting requirements established in subsection 3(a) if it
finds that compliance is cost prohibitive.
Section 3(c) would amend section 706(b) of the
Telecommunications Act of 1996 (47 U.S.C. 157 nt) by requiring
the FCC to initiate a notice of inquiry concerning the
availability of advanced telecommunications capability to all
Americans on an annual, rather than a regular, basis.
Subsection (c) also would redesignate existing section (c) as
section (e) and add a new section (c) and (d).
New section 706(c) would direct the FCC, in inquiring
whether advanced telecommunications capability is being
deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion,
to consider data collected through FCC broadband reporting
requirements, as amended by subsection (a).
New section 706(d) would direct the FCC, as part of the
annual inquiry described in amended section 706(b), to develop
a list of geographical areas that are not served by any
provider of advanced telecommunications capability and using
Census Bureau data, determine the population, population
density, and average per capita income for each such area.
Section 3(d) would require the Secretary of Commerce, in
consultation with the FCC, to expand the American Community
Survey conducted by the Bureau of the Census to determine
computer use and subscription to dial-up and broadband Internet
access in residential households.
Section 4. Study on additional broadband metrics and standards
Section 4(a) would require the Comptroller General to
conduct a study to evaluate additional broadband metrics or
standards to develop more accurate information about the cost
and capability of broadband connections. At a minimum, this
study would include an assessment of metrics that measure: the
average price per megabits per second of broadband offerings;
the actual speed compared to advertised speed of broadband
offerings; the availability and quality of broadband offerings
in the United States with the availability and quality of
broadband offerings in other industrialized Nations using
comparable metrics and standards; and the differences between
complementary and substitutable broadband offerings.
Section 4(b) would require the Comptroller General to
report to on the study described in subsection (a) one year
after enactment of this bill.
Section 5. Study on the impact of broadband speed and price on small
Section 5(a) would require the Small Business
Administration Office of Advocacy to conduct a study evaluating
the impact of broadband speed and price on small businesses.
Section 5(b) would require the Office of Advocacy to submit
the report described in section 5(a) one year after enactment
of this bill. This study would include: a survey of broadband
speeds available to small businesses; a survey of the cost of
broadband speeds available to small businesses; and a survey of
the type of broadband technology used by small businesses. In
addition, the study would include any policy recommendations
that may improve small businesses' access to comparable
broadband services at comparable rates in all regions of the
Section 6. Encouraging State initiatives to improve broadband
Section 6(a) would describe the purposes of the grant
program established under section 6.
Section 6(b)(1) would direct the Secretary of Commerce to
award grants to eligible entities for statewide initiatives to
identify and track the availability of broadband services
within each State.
Section 6(b)(2) would direct the grants to be awarded on a
Section 6(c) would define eligibility requirements for the
grants, including requiring eligible entities seeking grants to
submit applications for to the Secretary of Commerce, requiring
eligible entities seeking grants to contribute matching non-
Federal funds for at least 20 percent of the total amount of
the grant, and requiring eligible entities seeking grants to
comply with confidentiality requirements in section 6.
Section 6(d)(1) would require the Secretary of Commerce to
develop regulations to require technical and scientific peer
review of applications made for grants under section 6.
Section 6(d)(2) would require that the regulations
developed under section 6(d)(1) require that technical and
scientific peer review groups: be provided a written
description of the grant to be reviewed; provide the results of
any review to the Secretary of Commerce; and certify that they
will prevent the unauthorized disclosure of confidential and
proprietary information provided by broadband service
Section 6(e) would describe how grants under subsection (b)
would be required to be used.
Section 6(e)(1) would require that the funds be used to
provide a baseline assessment of broadband service deployment
in each State.
Section 6(e)(2)(A) would require that the funds be used to
identify and track areas in each State that have low levels
ofbroadband service deployment. Section 6(e)(2)(B) would require that
the funds be used to identify and track the rate at which residential
and business users are adopting broadband. Section 6(e)(2)(C) would
require that the funds be used to identify and track suppliers of such
Section 6(e)(3) would require that the funds be used to
identify barriers to the adoption by individuals and business
of broadband services, including an assessment of demand and
Section 6(e)(4) would require that the funds be used to
identify the speeds of broadband connections made available to
individuals and businesses within the State, relying, at a
minimum, on the data rate benchmarks for broadband service
described in section 3.
Section 6(e)(5) would require that the funds be used to
create and facilitate, in each county or designated region, a
local technology planning team with members representing a
cross section of the community, benchmarking technology use
across community sectors, setting goals for improved technology
use within each sector, and developing a tactical business plan
for achieving its goals.
Section 6(e)(6) would require that the funds be used to
work collaboratively with broadband service providers and
information technology companies to encourage deployment and
use, through local demand aggregation, mapping analysis and the
creation of market intelligence to improve the business case
Section 6(e)(7) would require that the funds be used to
establish programs to improve computer ownership and Internet
Section 6(e)(8) would require that the funds be used to
collect and analyze detailed market data concerning demand for
broadband service and related information technology services.
Section 6(e)(9) would require that the funds be used to
facilitate information exchange regarding the use and demand
for broadband services between the public and private sectors.
Section 6(e)(10) would require that the funds be used to
create within each State a geographic inventory map of
Section 6(f) would limit an eligible entity to receive a
new grant under section 6 if the same organization obtained
prior grant awards to fund the same activities in that State in
each of the previous four years.
Section 6(g) would require the Secretary of Commerce to
have each recipient of a grant to submit a report on the use of
funds provided by the grant and would require the Secretary of
Commerce to create a web page on the Department of Commerce web
site that aggregates relevant information made available to the
public by grant recipients.
Section 6(h) would require the FCC to provide eligible
entities electronic access to aggregated broadband reporting
data and would specifically require eligible entities to treat
trade secrets, commercial or financial information, or
privileged or confidential information as records not subject
to public disclosure.
Section 6(i) would define terms in the bill.
Section 6(j) authorizes $40 million per year for the State
Broadband Data and Development Grant Program in each of fiscal
years 2008 through 2012.
Section 6(k) clarifies that this section does not grant
public or private entities established or affected by this Act
any regulatory jurisdiction or oversight authority over
providers of broadband services or information technology.
Changes in Existing Law
In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the
Standing Rules of the Senate, changes in existing law made by
the bill, as reported, are shown as follows (existing law
proposed to be omitted is enclosed in black brackets, new
material is printed in italic, existing law in which no change
is proposed is shown in roman):
TELECOMMUNICATIONS ACT OF 1996
SEC. 706. ADVANCED TELECOMMUNICATIONS INCENTIVES.
[47 U.S.C. 157 note]
(a) In General.--The Commission and each State commission
with regulatory jurisdiction over telecommunications services
shall encourage the deployment on a reasonable and timely basis
of advanced telecommunications capability to all Americans
(including, in particular, elementary and secondary schools and
classrooms) by utilizing, in a manner consistent with the
public interest, convenience, and necessity, price cap
regulation, regulatory forbearance, measures that promote
competition in the local telecommunications market, or other
regulating methods that remove barriers to infrastructure
(b) Inquiry.--The Commission shall, within 30 months after
the date of enactment of this Act, and [regularly] annually
thereafter, initiate a notice of inquiry concerning the
availability of advanced telecommunications capability to all
Americans (including, in particular, elementary and secondary
schools and classrooms) and shall complete the inquiry within
180 days after its initiation. In the inquiry, the Commission
shall determine whether advanced telecommunications capability
is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely
fashion. If the Commission's determination is negative, it
shall take immediate action to accelerate deployment of such
capability by removing barriers to infrastructure investment
and by promoting competition in the telecommunications market.
(c) Measurement of Extent of Deployment.--In determining
under subsection (b) whether advanced telecommunications
capability is being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable
and timely fashion, the Commission shall consider data
collected through Form 477 reporting requirements.
(d) Demographic Information for Unserved Areas.--As part of
the inquiry required by subsection (b), the Commission shall
compile a list of geographical areas that are not served by any
provider of advanced telecommunications capability (as defined
by section 706(c)(1) of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 (47
U.S.C. 157 nt)) and to the extent that data from the Census
Bureau is available, determine, for each such unserved area--
(1) the population;
(2) the population density; and
(3) the average per capita income.
[(c)] (e) Definitions.--For purposes of this subsection:
(1) Advanced telecommunications capability.--The term
``advanced telecommunications capability'' is defined,
without regard to any transmission media or technology,
as an evolving level of high-speed, switched, broadband
telecommunications capability that enables users to
originate and receive high-quality voice, data,
graphics, and video telecommunications using any
(2) Elementary and secondary schools.--The term
``elementary and secondary school'' means elementary
and secondary schools, as defined in section 9101 of
the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.