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                                                      Calendar No. 328
116th Congress     }                                    {       Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session       }                                    {      116-174
_______________________________________________________________________

                                     

   BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT ACCURACY AND TECHNOLOGICAL AVAILABILITY ACT

                               __________

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                                S. 1822









              [GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]










               December 12, 2019.--Ordered to be printed 
                                __________
	       
                  U.S. GOVERNMENT PUBLISHING OFFICE
	                             
99-010                     WASHINGTON : 2019 
	                     
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
               
       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION
                     one hundred sixteenth congress
                             first session

                 ROGER F. WICKER, Mississippi, Chairman
JOHN THUNE, South Dakota             MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
ROY BLUNT, Missouri                  AMY KLOBUCHAR, Minnesota
TED CRUZ, Texas                      RICHARD BLUMENTHAL, Connecticut
DEB FISCHER, Nebraska                BRIAN SCHATZ, Hawaii
JERRY MORAN, Kansas                  EDWARD J. MARKEY, Massachusetts
DAN SULLIVAN, Alaska                 TOM UDALL, New Mexico
CORY GARDNER, Colorado               GARY C. PETERS, Michigan
MARSHA BLACKBURN, Tennessee          TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin
SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO, West Virginia  TAMMY DUCKWORTH, Illinois
MIKE LEE, Utah                       JON TESTER, Montana
RON JOHNSON, Wisconsin               KYRSTEN SINEMA, Arizona
TODD C. YOUNG, Indiana               JACKY ROSEN, Nevada
RICK SCOTT, Florida
                       John Keast, Staff Director
               David Strickland, Minority Staff Director


















                                                      Calendar No. 328
116th Congress     }                                    {       Report
                                 SENATE
 1st Session       }                                    {      116-174
======================================================================



 
    BROADBAND DEPLOYMENT ACCURACY AND TECHNOLOGICAL AVAILABILITY ACT

                                _______
                                

               December 12, 2019.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. Wicker, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1822]

      [Including cost estimate of the Congressional Budget Office]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 1822) to require the Federal 
Communications Commission to issue rules relating to the 
collection of data with respect to the availability of 
broadband services, and for other purposes, 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

    S. 1822 would require the Federal Communications Commission 
(FCC or the Commission) to take certain steps designed to 
improve the FCC's broadband deployment data collection and its 
related maps documenting broadband deployment in the United 
States.

                          Background and Needs

    The United States faces a persistent digital divide. 
Although more than 98 percent of Americans have access to high-
speed broadband,\1\ over 20 million Americans still lacked 
access to these services at the end of 2017.\2\ A significant 
number of these unserved Americans live in rural and Tribal 
areas: 98.3 percent of those living in urban areas have access 
to high-speed broadband, while that number is 73.2 percent for 
rural areas, and 67.6 percent for Tribal lands.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \1\High-speed broadband is defined as fixed terrestrial service at 
25 megabits per second (Mbps) upload speeds and 3 Mbps download speeds 
and mobile long-term evolution (LTE) service at 5 Mbps/1 Mbps.
    \2\Inquiry Concerning Deployment of Advanced Telecommunications 
Capability to All Americans in a Reasonable and Timely Fashion, 2019 
Broadband Deployment Report, GN Docket No. 18-238 at para. 2. (rel. May 
29, 2019) (https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/FCC-19-44A1.pdf).
    \3\Id. at para. 36, Fig. 3a.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mapping--graphically displaying where broadband is 
available at certain speeds--is a critical tool in closing this 
digital divide.\4\ For example, maps produced by the FCC are 
used to determine the unserved areas eligible for billions of 
Federal subsidy dollars for broadband deployment. Other 
broadband deployment programs at the Federal and State level 
also rely on the FCC's maps, or alternatively try to develop 
their own maps of where broadband is and is not deployed. Thus, 
these maps must accurately display served and unserved areas. 
Flawed and inaccurate maps can result in wasted resources and 
the stifling of opportunities for economic development, 
especially in rural and Tribal areas.\5\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \4\Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solutions: Hearing Before the 
Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senate, Apr. 10, 
2019, hearing webcast (https://www.commerce.senate.gov/public/
index.cfm/2019/4/broadband-mapping-challenges-and-
solutions); written testimony of Tim Donovan, senior vice president, 
Competitive Carriers Association, at 1 (https://
www.commerce.senate.gov/services/files/335DCD54-07D6-4140-A286-
0B59F6527F6B) (``[W]e cannot close the digital divide if we do not know 
the size and location of our country's existing coverage gaps.''); 
written testimony of Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO, US Telecom, 
at 2 (https://www.commerce.senate.gov/services/files/1C4BBCD1-E586-
4C1D-94EB-3D2FE7FF9360) (``Today, it is equally true that when it comes 
to broadband, ``if you can't map it, you can't deploy to it.''
    \5\See hearing webcast, Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solutions 
(testimony of Mike Oblizalo, vice president and general manager, Hood 
Canal Communications) (``But the lack of accurate maps makes for a 
challenging process to determine potential areas for broadband 
deployment and availability of funding. ... Accurate mapping data is 
critical to delivering and sustaining services in Rural America--and 
bad mapping data risks leaving rural consumers stranded without 
broadband for years to come.'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The FCC relies primarily on data reported by fixed and 
mobile broadband providers on Form 477 submissions to develop 
its maps. Fixed broadband providers, such as terrestrial fixed, 
fixed wireless, and satellite providers, identify the census 
blocks where they currently--or could within a standard service 
interval of approximately 7 to 10 days--provide service. Mobile 
broadband providers submit polygons in a shapefile format that 
represent the geographic areas where a customer could expect to 
receive the minimum speed the provider advertises for that 
area.\6\ Mobile providers also report the census blocks where 
their service is advertised and available to potential 
customers.\7\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \6\FCC, FCC Form 477 Local Telephone Competition and Broadband 
Reporting Instructions (Dec. 5, 2016), section 5.3, ``Fixed Broadband 
Deployment'' at 17-18, section 5.8, ``Mobile Broadband Deployment'' at 
24 (Dec. 5, 2016) (https://transition.fcc.gov/form477/477inst.pdf).
    \7\Id., section 5.9, ``Mobile Broadband Service Availability'' at 
25.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    However, the use of Form 477 data by the FCC to develop 
broadband maps has come under scrutiny. A general criticism of 
using this data to build broadband maps is that the way the FCC 
directs providers to report broadband deployment data is 
unreliable.\8\ Census blocks that fixed providers use to 
identify service areas vary significantly in size. Census 
blocks in urban areas can be compact, whereas census blocks 
covering rural areas can be very large.\9\ Because a provider 
can report that a census block is served if it provides 
broadband service in any part of that census block, regardless 
of how many consumers in the census block are not able to 
access the service, there are many areas of the country 
(especially in rural areas) that are reported as having 
broadband service, when in fact, they may not.\10\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \8\See written testimony of Jonathan Spalter at 2 (https://
www.commerce.senate.gov/services/files/1C4BBCD1-E586-4C1D-94EB-
3D2FE7FF9360) (``The `one-served-all-served' reporting is simply not a 
reliable tool to accurately understand broadband availability, nor is 
it a viable approach to identifying where scarce Federal support for 
broadband deployment should be allocated.'').
    \9\Improving Broadband Reporting and Mapping, NCTA-The Internet & 
Television Association (Mar. 21, 2019) (https://www.ncta.com/whats-new/
improving-broadband-reporting-and-mapping).
    \10\Id.; written testimony of Jonathan Spalter at 2 (https://
www.commerce.senate.gov/services/files/1C4BBCD1-E586-4C1D-94EB-
3D2FE7FF9360).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Other criticisms of the FCC's current broadband data 
collection and mapping processing include that the data is 
self-reported by providers and does not undergo an independent 
validation or verification process; and the data may not be 
collected in a timely manner to reflect the current 
availability of broadband service in a particular area.\11\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \11\See, e.g., Rob Pegoraro, CITYLAB, ``The Problem With America's 
New National Broadband Map,'' February 28, 2018 (https://
www.citylab.com/life/2018/02/fcc-high-speed-broadband-internet-access-
map/554516/); Kelcee Griffis, Law360, ``FCC's Broadband Maps Obscure 
Reality of National Coverage,'' March 7, 2018 (https://www.law360.com/
articles/1017156/fcc-s-broadband-maps-obscure-reality-of-national-
coverage).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Alternate attempts by the FCC to collect broadband data 
outside of the Form 477 process have been criticized as well. 
In August 2017, the FCC conducted a one-time collection of 
fourth generation long-term evolution (4G LTE) coverage data to 
establish a map of areas eligible for Mobility Fund Phase II 
(MF II) support from the Universal Service Fund. The Commission 
required providers to file propagation maps and model details 
indicating their current 4G LTE coverage, based on prescribed 
parameters.\12\ The FCC also included a challenge process, 
where a challenger had 150 days to challenge an area initially 
deemed ineligible in the Commission's map.\13\ However, one 
trade association, in testimony to the Committee, argued that 
the parameters the FCC set were inadequate,\14\ and the initial 
map of MF II-eligible areas overstated the availability of 
mobile broadband in the country.\15\ On December 7, 2018, the 
FCC launched an investigation, which remains ongoing, into 
whether certain carriers violated the MF II reverse auction's 
mapping rules by submitting incorrect coverage maps.\16\ The 
investigation, which is ongoing, came after a preliminary 
review of the 20,809,503 speed tests filed as part of the 
challenge process.\17\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \12\Connect America Fund, Order on Reconsideration and Second 
Report and Order, 32 FCC Rcd 6282 para 28 (2017) (https://docs.fcc.gov/
public/attachments/FCC-17-102A1.pdf).
    \13\Id. at para 29.
    \14\See hearing webcast, Broadband Mapping: Challenges and 
Solutions (testimony of Timothy Donovan) (``[A] primary flaw is that 
the parameters that the FCC asks carriers to report data are 
overstated, so that carriers can report data that is both correct in 
terms of what the FCC asks for, as well as not useful for what you or I 
would consider to be reliable.'').
    \15\See, e.g., letter from Senator Roger F. Wicker et al to the 
Hon. Ajit Pai, Chairman, FCC (Mar. 8, 2018) (https://
www.wicker.senate.gov/public/_cache/files/f03ebd53-a4fe-4b5d-b21e-
594a3180d0f5/letter-to-fcc-re-mf-ii.pdf); see hearing webcast, 
Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solutions (testimony of Timothy 
Donovan) (``You know that the representation of coverage in your States 
is overstated and, in some cases, substantially so ... While taking 
steps to standardize the data should be commended, we now know that the 
parameters selected did not sufficiently improve the accuracy or 
credibility of the resulting coverage maps, which continue to 
dramatically overstate coverage, especially in rural areas.'').
    \16\FCC, FCC Launches Investigation into Potential Violations of 
Mobility Fund Phase II Mapping Rules, press release, Dec. 7, 2018 
(https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/DOC-355447A1.pdf).
    \17\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Various telecommunications stakeholders agree that the FCC 
needs to improve its broadband data collection and maps.\18\ 
Fixed broadband stakeholders argue that the FCC needs to 
collect data that is more granular than the census-block data 
the agency currently collects.\19\ For example, USTelecom-The 
Broadband Association suggests that the FCC create a national 
dataset identifying all locations where broadband could be 
provided upon which providers would identify where they are 
providing service or could provide service within a standard 
service interval.\20\ Alternatively, NCTA-The Internet & 
Television Association recommends that fixed providers submit 
polygon shapefiles that represent where the provider offers 
broadband service.\21\ Either of these proposals would result 
in maps more granular than those created today.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \18\See, eg., written testimony of Jonathan Spalter at 2 (https://
www.commerce.senate.gov/services/files/1C4BBCD1-E586-4C1D-94EB-
3D2FE7FF9360) (``There is broad agreement between industry and 
government on the deficiencies of current reporting methods.''); 
written testimony of Mike Oblizalo at 3 (https://
www.commerce.senate.gov/services/files/B2350064-BD5B-4AA8-91F2-
186A8D66A700) (``The accuracy of broadband availability maps is often 
in question as maps show service as available where consumers cannot 
get them at all and other places these maps show speeds available at 
levels that cannot be consistently delivered.'').
    \19\See hearing webcast, Broadband Mapping: Challenges and 
Solutions (testimony of Jonathan Spalter) (``All stakeholders, from the 
Administration to Congress to consumers to broadband companies to my 
fellow panelists this morning, agree that the current yardstick 
collecting data by census block is inadequate.''); id. (testimony of 
Mike McCormick, president, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation) (``I 
think one of the keys is going to be to move away from the census block 
data and go to more granular data, smaller areas of use.'').
    \20\Written testimony of Jonathan Spalter at 3 (https://
www.commerce.senate.gov/services/files/1C4BBCD1-E586-4C1D-94EB-
3D2FE7FF9360); letter from B. Lynn Follansbee, vice president--law & 
policy, US Telecom, to Ms. Marlene H. Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket 
No. 11-10 (filed Oct. 17, 2018).
    \21\Letter from Steve F. Morris, vice president and general 
counsel, NCTA-The Internet & Television Association, to Ms. Marlene H. 
Dortch, Secretary, FCC, WC Docket No. 11-10 (filed Feb. 27, 2019).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Mobile broadband stakeholders argue that more precise 
parameters for signal propagation are important to developing 
more reliable maps.\22\ As part of MF II, the Commission 
required providers to submit propagation maps and model details 
indicating the provider's 4G LTE coverage, as defined by 
download speeds of 5 megabits per second (Mbps) and an upload 
speed of 1 Mbps at the cell edge with 80 percent probability, 
and a 30 percent cell loading factor.\23\ \24\ However, an 
official from an industry trade association testified that the 
industry standard for commercial networks requires at least 90 
percent cell edge probability to demonstrate more accurate 
service availability.\25\ The 10 percent difference in cell-
edge probability between the FCC's parameters and industry 
standards results in a 60 percent increase in covered areas, 
creating maps that may show unserved areas as served.\26\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \22\See hearing webcast, Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solution 
(testimony of Tim Donovan) (``[A] primary flaw is that the parameters 
that the FCC asks carriers to report data are overstated, so that 
carriers can report data that is both correct in terms of what the FCC 
asks for, as well as not useful for what you or I would consider to be 
reliable.'').
    \23\See Connect America Fund, Report and Order, Order on 
Reconsideration, 32 FCC Rcd 6282, para. 34 (2017).
    \24\Written testimony of Tim Donovan at 8 (https://
www.commerce.senate.gov/services/files/335DCD54-07D6-4140-A286-
0B59F6527F6B) (``Cell edge probability determines the likelihood that 
the minimum speed will be possible at the furthest point from the base 
station and cell loading determines the extent to which available 
resources from a given base station may be used by consumers while 
providing minimum coverage speed.'')
    \25\Id.
    \26\Id.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Other tools also could help improve the data used to create 
broadband maps. Commercial and other third-party data is one 
such tool. Ookla, which provides broadband speed tests, 
collects data on performance, quality, and accessibility of 
broadband networks. This data could be used in the FCC's 
mapping process.\27\ Consumers also could have a role in 
collecting data for broadband maps. For example, crowdsourcing 
data from consumers could help improve the FCC's data by 
providing on-the-ground information on the availability of 
broadband.\28\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \27\See generally, written testimony of Chip Strange, vice 
president, Strategic Initiatives, Ookla, LLC (https://
www.commerce.senate.gov/services/files/073F0773-F518-4625-8636-
184225FDB6E3).
    \28\See hearing webcast, Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solution 
(testimony of Chip Strange) (``[C]rowdsourcing can be a much more vital 
component to our national mapping initiatives than I think the Federal 
Government has utilized thus far. ... If you simply downloaded our 
publicly accessible speedtest application, you could collect similar 
type of information and then all of that gets rolled up for use by a 
Federal agency that is licensing it. ...''); id. (``With respect to 
crowdsourcing, I think that regardless of how we cut the data up, we 
have to get measurements in the field and crowdsourcing can be a huge 
activator for that.''); (testimony of Jonathan Spalter) (``We're going 
to de-duplicate and improve the confidence score of that data through 
crowdsourcing.'').
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    In addition to improving data collection, the Committee 
heard testimony on the need for a challenge process for all FCC 
data collection efforts, not just for MF II.\29\ Challenge 
processes allow the public--consumers, private industry, 
government stakeholders, among other entities--to submit their 
own coverage data to challenge the accuracy of the data 
submitted by providers. Although a more granular map should 
reduce the need for a challenge process, such a process is 
still important as a way to help verify the data submitted to 
the FCC. The MF II included such a process, however it was 
criticized for being burdensome for challengers--both 
financially and logistically--with respect to what was required 
to initiate a challenge.\30\ Less burdensome requirements could 
improve participation in this process.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \29\See hearing webcast, Broadband Mapping: Challenges and Solution 
(testimony of Mike Oblizalo) (``While getting more granular is useful, 
a meaningful challenge process is critical to validate the data prior 
to any map being used by the FCC or the RUS to make final decisions on 
funding or financing.''); (testimony of Tim Donovan) (``[T]here's a 
reason why of the 106 entities that entered into the portal, only 21 
were able to present valid challenges at the end.''); id. (``[H]aving 
some sort of a public feedback mechanism can certainly be a positive 
step in the right direction on how you fix this.'').
    \30\See written testimony of Tim Donovan at 3-6 (https://
www.commerce.senate.gov/services/files/335DCD54-07D6-4140-A286-
0B59F6527F6B); see hearing webcast (testimony of Mike McCormick) (``We 
found very quickly that we were not equipped to be able to handle this 
challenge, that we didn't even have the staffing or the capabilities of 
doing it. ... [W]e wanted to show that this is so complicated for us 
that it was impossible and it was absolutely impossible for a consumer 
to do.'')
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    The FCC has taken some action to improve its data 
collection. On August 6, 2019, the FCC released a Report and 
Order and Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (Second 
Further Notice) on data collection.\31\ The Report and Order 
calls for more granular information reporting for fixed 
providers via shapefiles, creates a process for crowdsourcing 
data, and makes changes to the Form 477 data collection to 
reduce reporting burdens. The Second Further Notice also seeks 
comment on the collection of more accurate, reliable mobile 
wireless voice and broadband coverage data, ways to incorporate 
location-specific fixed broadband deployment data in this new 
data collection, and sunsetting the current Form 477 data 
collection as a result of the newly adopted process.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \31\Digital Opportunity Data Collection, Report and Order and 
Second Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, WC Docket Nos. 19-195, 
11-10 (rel. Aug. 6, 2019), (https://docs.fcc.gov/public/attachments/
FCC-19-79A1.pdf).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

                         Summary of Provisions

    S. 1822, as enacted, would do the following:
   Require the FCC to issue final rules for the 
        collection of granular data on the availability of 
        terrestrial fixed, fixed wireless, satellite, and 
        mobile broadband internet access service from providers 
        that must meet certain benchmarks set forth in the 
        legislation. The data collected, as well as data from 
        other sources, would be used to create various 
        broadband availability maps that could be used for 
        several purposes, including distributing funds for the 
        deployment of broadband.
   Require the rules to include processes for 
        challenging the maps and submitted data, crowdsourcing 
        data from the public, and verifying submitted data.
   Direct the FCC to provide technical assistance to 
        Indian tribes and small entities, conduct audits of 
        submitted data, develop enforcement mechanisms, and 
        submit to Congress an annual report on implementation 
        of this Act and associated enforcement activities.
   Prohibit the FCC from using the Universal Service 
        Fund to pay for the costs associated with this bill and 
        exempt the FCC's initial rulemaking from Office of 
        Management and Budget and Paperwork Reduction Act 
        review.

                          Legislative History

    S. 1822 was introduced on June 12, 2019, by Senator Wicker 
(for himself and Senators Peters, Thune, and Klobuchar) and was 
referred to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation of the Senate. There are 48 additional 
cosponsors. On July 24, 2019, the Committee met in open 
Executive Session and, by voice vote, ordered S. 1822 reported 
favorably with an amendment (in the nature of a substitute).

                            Estimated Costs

    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 
Office:

              [GRAPHIC(S) NOT AVAILABLE IN TIFF FORMAT]


    S. 1822 would require the Federal Communications Commission 
(FCC) to collect detailed data twice a year on the availability 
of broadband internet access services. That data would be 
reported by providers of those broadband services. Under the 
bill, the FCC would establish and maintain a comprehensive 
database and create detailed and publicly available broadband 
coverage maps. The bill also would require the FCC to develop 
processes for any person or entity to submit broadband 
availability data to verify or challenge the FCC's database or 
maps.
    Using information from the FCC about the scope and 
complexity of the required work, CBO estimates that the FCC 
would spend $28 million over the 2020-2021 period to issue 
rules, establish reporting requirements, and hire contractors 
to establish a comprehensive broadband database and maps. CBO 
estimates that maintaining and updating the database and maps 
would cost about $9 million a year starting in 2021.
    In total, CBO estimates that implementing the bill would 
have a gross cost of $65 million over the 2020-2024 period. 
However, the FCC is authorized to collect fees sufficient to 
offset the costs of its regulatory activities each year; 
therefore, CBO estimates that the net effect on discretionary 
spending for those activities would be insignificant, assuming 
appropriation actions consistent with that authority.
    S. 1822 contains private-sector mandates as defined in the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act (UMRA) but CBO cannot determine 
whether the cost of those mandates would exceed the threshold 
established in UMRA ($164 million in 2019, adjusted annually 
for inflation).
    S. 1822 would direct the FCC to develop rules requiring 
broadband service providers (terrestrial fixed, satellite, 
mobile, and fixed wireless) to disclose data and information to 
the agency. Those disclosure requirements would vary based on 
the type of broadband provider and would include, among other 
things:
           Areas where providers have developed (or 
        could potentially develop) infrastructure for a 
        broadband network,
           Download and upload speeds for various 
        thresholds as established by the FCC, and a
           List of addresses or locations for the 
        service area of the provider.
    Because the rules defining content and threshold 
requirements (such as the frequency of data disclosures or the 
format for data submissions) are not complete, CBO cannot 
determine the cost for broadband providers to comply with the 
bill's requirements.
    If the FCC increases annual fee collections to offset the 
costs to implement provisions in the bill, S. 1822 would 
increase the cost of an existing private-sector mandate on 
entities required to pay those fees. Using information from the 
FCC, CBO estimates that the incremental cost of the mandate 
would be small, about $13 million annually, and would fall well 
below the annual threshold established in the UMRA.
    The bill contains no intergovernmental mandates as defined 
in UMRA.
    The CBO staff contacts for this estimate are David Hughes 
(for federal costs) and Rachel Austin (for mandates). The 
estimate was reviewed by H. Samuel Papenfuss, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                      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. 1822 would direct the FCC to reform its broadband 
deployment data collection and mapping rules, processes, and 
procedures. The bill would affect the FCC and entities already 
subject to the jurisdiction of the FCC, so the number of 
persons covered by this legislation should be consistent with 
current levels already regulated under the Communications Act 
of 1934.

                            economic impact

    S. 1822 is not expected to have an adverse impact on the 
Nation's economy. The legislation would promote access to 
broadband by improving the data collected by the FCC regarding 
broadband deployment, and in turn the maps used by the FCC and 
other Government agencies to target funding for broadband 
deployment to close the digital divide.

                                privacy

    S. 1822 would have a minimal impact on the personal privacy 
of individuals. The bill would require the collection and 
reporting of more granular information about broadband 
deployment, including potentially at the address level. But 
provisions in S. 1822 would require the FCC to develop 
processes and procedures to protect the security, privacy, and 
confidentiality of such information.

                               paperwork

    The Committee does not anticipate a major increase in 
paperwork burdens for private individuals or businesses 
resulting from the passage of this legislation. This 
legislation would reform the broadband data collection, 
validation, and mapping already conducted by the FCC. It would 
direct the FCC to develop systems by which individuals and 
third parties may challenge data submitted to the FCC or to 
submit their own broadband deployment information to the 
agency, but such actions would be voluntary. This bill also 
would require annual reports to Congress on the implementation 
of the Act and associated enforcement activities conducted 
during the previous fiscal year.

                   Congressionally Directed Spending

    In compliance with paragraph 4(b) of rule XLIV of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides that no 
provisions contained in the bill, as reported, meet the 
definition of congressionally directed spending items under the 
rule.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title.

    This section would provide that this bill may be cited as 
the ``Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological 
Availability Act'' or the ``Broadband DATA Act''.

Section 2. Definitions.

    This section would define 14 terms used throughout the 
bill. The following six definitions included in S. 1822 are of 
particular importance:
    Broadband Internet Access Service.--The term ``broadband 
internet access service'' has the same meaning given the term 
in section 8.1(b) of title 47, Code of Federal Regulations, or 
any successor regulation.
    Broadband Map.--The term ``Broadband Map'' means the map 
created by the Commission under section 3(c)(1)(A) of this 
bill.
    Fabric.--The term ``Fabric'' means the Broadband 
Serviceable Location Fabric established under section 
3(b)(1)(B) of this bill.
    Provider.--The term ``provider'' means a provider of fixed 
or mobile broadband internet access service.
    Shapefile.--The term ``shapefile'' means a digital storage 
format containing geospatial or location-based data and 
attribute information (1) regarding the availability of 
broadband internet access service; and (2) that can be viewed, 
edited, and mapped in geographic information system software.
    Standard Broadband Installation.--The term ``standard 
broadband installation'' means the initiation by a provider of 
fixed broadband internet access service with no charges or 
delays attributable to the extension of the network of the 
provider; and includes the initiation of fixed broadband 
internet access service through routine installation that can 
be completed not later than 10 business days after the date on 
which the service request is submitted.

Section 3. Broadband maps.

    Subsection (a)(1) of this section would require that, not 
later than 180 days after the date of enactment of this Act, 
the FCC issue final rules for the collection of accurate and 
granular data on the availability of terrestrial fixed, fixed 
wireless, satellite, and mobile broadband internet access 
service from providers on at least a biannual basis. The 
Commission would be required to use the data collected to 
compile publicly available coverage maps pursuant to section 
3(c)(1) that show where broadband is and is not available. The 
rules adopted by the Commission also would be required to 
establish the following: (1) processes for verifying data 
submitted by providers pursuant to the bill; (2) challenging 
submitted data and maps consistent with section 3(b)(5) of the 
bill; and (3) processes for protecting the security, privacy 
and confidentiality of information in the Fabric, the data 
supporting the Fabric, and data collected under section 
3(b)(2); and (4) develop a crowdsourcing system consistent with 
section 5(b).
    Subsection (a)(2) of this section would direct the FCC to 
develop a process to collect verified data for use in the 
coverage maps from State, local, and Tribal government 
entities, other third-party sources; and other Federal 
agencies. With respect to third party data, the FCC would 
collect such data to the extent that the agency finds that it 
is in the public interest to use that data in the development 
of the coverage maps, or verification of data submitted under 
section 3(b). The Committee intends public interest to be 
interpreted as necessary for the creation of accurate and 
granular broadband availability maps. The FCC should not use 
data that does not help identify where broadband is or is not 
made available by providers. Finally, the FCC would collect 
data from other Federal agencies that collect information about 
broadband internet access service from providers, and from 
agencies that collect such information directly in the course 
of their primary work.
    Subsection (a)(3) of this section would direct the 
Commission to update the rules it adopts pursuant to section 3 
to reflect changes in technology, ensure the accuracy of 
propagation models, and improve the usefulness of the coverage 
maps.
    Subsection (b) generally would set forth a further 
explanation of the content of some of the rules the FCC must 
adopt pursuant to the general rulemaking required under section 
3(a).
    Subsection (b)(1) would establish the Broadband Serviceable 
Location Fabric for fixed broadband internet access service. 
Under paragraph (A) of this subsection, the Commission would 
need to create a common dataset of all U.S. locations where 
fixed broadband internet access service can be installed (as 
determined by the Commission). The paragraph would permit the 
FCC to contract with an entity with expertise on geographic 
information systems (GIS) to create and maintain this dataset. 
Such a contract would last for a maximum term of 5 years before 
being rebid and must comply with the Federal Acquisition 
Regulation. The bidding process for the contract would be 
required to be open, transparent, and competitive.
    Subparagraph (B) of this subsection would provide more 
details about the Fabric itself. The Fabric would contain 
geocoded information for each fixed broadband internet access 
service serviceable location identified by the FCC under 
paragraph (A). It also would do the following: (1) serve as the 
foundation upon which all information about the availability of 
fixed broadband service would be overlaid, (2) be compatible 
with commonly used GIS software, and (3) be updated at least 
annually. Paragraph (c) of this subsection would direct the FCC 
to prioritize its implementation of the Fabric for rural and 
insular areas in the United States. The Committee intends for 
this provision to direct the FCC to focus initial 
implementation of the Fabric on high-cost, unserved parts of 
the country that would be eligible for Federal Universal 
Service Fund high-cost support--where supplemental information 
about fixed broadband internet access service serviceable 
locations could be most relevant and useful when distributing 
funds. But at the same time, the Committee does not intend for 
this language to preclude implementation of the Fabric in other 
areas to the extent that the dataset permits such 
implementation.
    Subsection (b)(2) would require the FCC to adopt rules 
setting forth mandatory standards for the reporting of 
broadband internet access service by providers, and would 
provide further details about such standards.
    Subparagraph (A) of this subsection would pertain to 
providers of terrestrial fixed, fixed wireless, and satellite 
broadband internet access service. The FCC would need to create 
standards for the collection of the following information from 
such providers:
   Data that documents where the provider has actually 
        built out its broadband network infrastructure such 
        that the provider is able to provide service.
   Data that documents where the provider is capable of 
        performing a standard broadband installation.
   Data on the download and upload speeds, at various 
        thresholds established by the Commission, and if 
        applicable, latency for the broadband internet access 
        service the provider makes available. (The Committee 
        intends that the latency requirement only apply to 
        fixed wireless and satellite providers.).
   Data that the agency determines is appropriate for 
        specific technologies to ensure the Broadband Map is 
        granular and accurate.
    The Committee understands that there may be no material 
difference between the area where a fixed broadband provider 
has actually built out its broadband network infrastructure to 
the point of being able to provide broadband service and the 
area where the provider could provide service within a standard 
broadband installation interval. In such circumstances, a 
single shapefile would accurately represent the provider's 
service area. To the extent there is a material difference 
between these two areas for a provider, the FCC may require the 
provider to report each area with a separate shapefile. But, as 
stated later in this subsection, the Act would prohibit the 
Commission from requiring any provider of terrestrial fixed, 
fixed wireless, or satellite broadband internet access service 
to identify or report addresses or locations for any part of 
this Act.
    Subparagraph (A) also would require that data collected 
from fixed broadband internet access service providers would 
need to be georeferenced to the GIS data in the Fabric.
    Subparagraph (A) would further direct the FCC to adopt 
specific rules by which fixed broadband internet access service 
providers must report the data required by the paragraph. Fixed 
wireless broadband internet access service providers would be 
permitted to submit the relevant data by the following means: 
(1) propagation maps, along with details about the propagation 
models those maps are based on; or (2) a list of addresses or 
locations that constitute the provider's service area. 
Paragraph (A) would require fixed wireless broadband internet 
access service propagation maps and models to satisfy standards 
that are similar to those applicable to mobile broadband 
internet access service providers under section (3)(b)(2)(B), 
taking into account material differences between the two 
technologies. With respect to any reporting by addresses, the 
Commission may only permit but not require such reporting and 
the agency must provide a mechanism for using that method of 
reporting for Tribal areas.
    Terrestrial fixed and satellite broadband internet access 
service providers would be permitted to submit the relevant 
data by the following means: (1) polygon shapefiles, or (2) a 
list of addresses or locations that constitute the provider's 
service area. With respect to any reporting by addresses, the 
Commission may only permit but not require such reporting and 
the agency must provide a mechanism for using that method of 
reporting for Tribal areas.
    Subparagraph (A) would further permit the Commission to 
request additional data that it determines is appropriate for 
specific technologies to ensure the Broadband Map is granular 
and accurate. The Committee expects that the FCC, in 
establishing uniform standards for the reporting of data from 
fixed providers, would seek to improve the accuracy of existing 
maps while minimizing the reporting burdens on providers.
    Subparagraph (B) of this subsection would pertain to 
providers of mobile broadband internet access service. The FCC 
would need to collect from such providers propagation maps 
depicting the provider's current (as of the date on which the 
information is collected) 4G LTE mobile broadband coverage, 
along with details about the propagation models those maps are 
based on. The propagation maps and models would be required to 
comply with the following rules:
   They would be required to take into consideration 
        the effect of clutter.
   They would be required to show where the provider 
        can provide 4G LTE mobile broadband service with a 
        download speed of 5 Mbps and an upload speed of 1 Mbps 
        with a cell edge probability of not less than 90 
        percent and cell loading of 50 percent. These 
        parameters are more stringent than those used for the 
        MF II information collection,\32\ and should create a 
        more precise and reliable mobile broadband map.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
    \32\In the MF II information collection, the Commission required 
providers to file propagation maps and model details indicating their 
current 4G LTE coverage, as defined by download speeds of 5 Mbps at the 
cell edge with 80 percent probability and a 30 percent cell loading 
factor. See Connect America Fund, Report and Order, Order on 
Reconsideration, 32 FCC Rcd 6282, para. 34 (2017).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------
   They would be required to comply with any other 
        parameter the FCC determines is necessary to create a 
        map under section 3(c)(1)(C) that is more precise than 
        the map produced under the MF II information 
        collection.
    Subsection (b)(3) would direct the Commission to 
immediately commence a rulemaking to update the prescribed 
reporting standards for providers of mobile broadband internet 
access service if it determines that the standards set forth in 
section 3(b)(2)(B) are insufficient to collect accurate 
propagation maps and propagation model details for future 
generations of mobile broadband internet access service 
technology. Any new reporting standards would have to be (1) 
the functional equivalent of those in section 3(b)(2)(B); and 
(2) allow for the collection of propagation maps and 
propagation model details that are as accurate and granular as, 
or more accurate and granular than, the maps and model details 
collected under section 3(b)(2)(B).
    Subsection (b)(4) would direct that each provider 
submitting data to the FCC pursuant to section 3(b)(2) include 
with that submission a certification from a corporate officer 
of the provider that such officer has examined the information 
contained in the submission and that, to the best of his or her 
knowledge, information, and belief, all statements of fact 
contained in the submission are true and correct. Subsection 
(b)(4) also would require that the Commission verify the 
accuracy and reliability of the information submitted to the 
agency under section (3)(b)(2) in accordance with the measures 
established by the Commission in the rulemaking under section 
3(a).
    Subsection (b)(5) would direct the Commission to adopt 
rules creating a user-friendly challenge process as part of the 
rulemaking under section 3(a). This challenge process would 
provide a process by which consumers; State, local, and Tribal 
governmental entities; and other entities could submit coverage 
data to the Commission to challenge the coverage maps, 
information submitted by providers regarding the availability 
of broadband internet access service, and information in the 
Fabric.
    The Committee believes that the reforms mandated by S. 1822 
will substantially improve the granularity and accuracy of the 
information being collected by the FCC. Nonetheless, the 
Committee recognizes that the data submitted will be self-
prepared and self-certified by broadband internet access 
providers, and that there is a need to verify such data. The 
Committee therefore urges the Commission to use the challenge 
process not just as a way to collect information from the 
public, but also to provide timely opportunities for input and 
evidence-based corrections to, or updates of, the coverage maps 
as the agency prepares to distribute funding for broadband 
based upon the availability of broadband internet access 
service. Similarly, the Committee intends for the crowdsourcing 
process created in section 5 of the bill, as well as the 
Commission's own verification obligations pursuant to the bill, 
to serve as important ongoing checks on the accuracy of the 
information being submitted to the agency and used in the 
coverage maps.
    Subsection (b)(5) would direct the Commission, in 
establishing the challenge process, to ensure that the process 
is not unduly burdensome for challengers or those responding to 
challenges. To do so, the Commission would be required to 
consider: (1) the types of information that an entity 
submitting a challenge should provide to the Commission; (2) 
the appropriate level of granularity for that information; (3) 
the need to mitigate the time and expense incurred by, and the 
administrative burdens placed on, both the entities submitting 
challenges and those responding to challenges; and (4) the 
costs to consumers and providers resulting from a misallocation 
of funds because of a reliance on outdated or otherwise 
inaccurate information in the coverage maps.
    In addition, subsection (b)(5) also would direct the 
Commission to include in the challenge process a process for 
verifying the data submitted to ensure reliability; allow 
providers to respond to challenges; and include an online 
mechanism for submitting challenges that is integrated into the 
coverage maps. The Commission also would be directed to include 
a process for the speedy resolution of challenges, as well as a 
process for regularly and expeditiously updating the coverage 
maps as challenges are resolved. With respect to the process 
for resolving challenges, the Committee understands that the 
Commission may decide to prioritize certain challenges or 
groups of challenges over others in light of their impact on 
the coverage maps.
    Finally, subsection (b)(6) would require that, not later 
than 180 days after the new rules take effect, the FCC reform 
its Form 477 broadband deployment service availability 
collection process to make that process consistent with the 
bill and rules issued pursuant to the bill, and to remove 
duplicative reporting requirements and procedures regarding the 
deployment of broadband internet access service. Subsection 
(b)(6) further provides that the Commission shall continue to 
collect and publicly report the subscription data that the 
Commission collected through the Form 477 process as in effect 
on July 1, 2019.
    Subsection (c) generally sets forth the actions the 
Commission would be required to take regarding the creation of 
maps using the information collected by the agency pursuant to 
subsection 3(b).
    Subsection (c)(1) would direct the Commission to create 
three different maps (collectively termed the ``coverage maps'' 
in S. 1822) concerning the availability of broadband internet 
access service as follows:
   The Broadband Map, which would depict the 
        availability of broadband internet access service in 
        the United States--both fixed and mobile--based on the 
        data collected from providers and show the areas that 
        remain unserved.
   A broadband availability map for fixed broadband 
        internet access service, based on the data collected 
        from providers.
   A broadband availability map for mobile broadband 
        internet access service, based on the data collected 
        from providers.
    Subsection (c)(2) would direct the FCC to use these 
coverage maps (1) to determine the areas where broadband 
internet access service is and is not available, and (2) when 
making any new award of funding with respect to the deployment 
of broadband internet access service.
    Subsection (c)(3) would direct the Commission to update the 
coverage maps not less than biannually using the most recent 
information collected by providers under section 3(b).
    Subsection (c)(4) would mandate that the Commission develop 
a process requiring the Department of Agriculture and the 
National Telecommunications and Information Administration 
(NTIA) to consult the coverage maps when distributing funds for 
broadband internet access service deployment under programs 
administered by those agencies. Subsection (b)(5) would further 
require the Commission to establish a process for sharing the 
data it collects under section 3(b)(2) with the NTIA.

Section 4. Enforcement.

    Subsection (a) of this section would make it unlawful for a 
person to willfully and knowingly, or recklessly, submit 
broadband internet access service availability information or 
data that is materially inaccurate or incomplete.
    The Committee recognizes that data submitted by providers 
under this Act may contain minor mistakes or omissions, which 
is why crowdsourcing and challenge processes are included to 
check and refine the accuracy of providers' data submissions 
and the maps created pursuant to S. 1822. Thus, the standard 
set forth in this provision, including the word ``recklessly,'' 
is not intended to apply to providers who submit information or 
data under this Act that contains minor mistakes, small 
omissions or overstatements, or other unintentional errors. As 
a result, this subsection makes clear that FCC enforcement 
action should focus on situations where a provider submits data 
that is materially inaccurate or incomplete, meaning it would 
have a significant impact on the Commission's collection and 
use of the information and data under this Act. The Committee 
intends that the focus of this inquiry should be on the nature 
of the inaccuracy or incompleteness, and that the agency should 
issue enforcement guidance to providers.
    Subsection (b) of this section would deem violations of the 
bill to be violations of the Communications Act of 1934 and 
would direct the FCC to enforce S. 1822 in the same manner and 
with the same jurisdiction, powers, and duties as if the 
provisions of the bill were incorporated into and made a part 
of the Communications Act of 1934.

Section 5. Improving data accuracy.

    Subsection (a) of this section would require the Commission 
to conduct regular audits of the information submitted by 
providers under S. 1822 to ensure that providers are complying 
with the bill. The Committee believes that this subsection is a 
necessary corollary to section 3(b)(4), which requires that 
providers certify the accuracy of the data being submitted to 
the FCC pursuant to the requirements of this bill, and section 
4(a), which establishes standards and penalties for the 
submission of inaccurate or incomplete information to the FCC. 
Thus, the Committee intends for the FCC to implement this 
requirement in a rigorous fashion such that the agency can 
judge the validity of such certifications and avoid past issues 
related to the submission of inaccurate broadband internet 
access service deployment and availability information to the 
agency.
    Subsection (b) of this section would require the FCC to 
develop a process through which the public could submit 
specific information about the deployment and availability of 
broadband internet access service to verify or supplement the 
information collected from providers and used in the maps. The 
subsection would further require the Commission to develop 
guidance and other information to make sure that the 
information submitted through this crowdsourcing process is 
uniform and consistent with the data submitted by providers 
under section 3 of the bill. The Committee intends for the 
Commission to implement this latter directive in a flexible 
manner, balancing the need for consistent data with the need to 
make this crowdsourcing process useful for consumers and third 
parties who may not have sophisticated tools at their disposal 
to collect such data. The Committee recognizes, however, that a 
variety of factors outside of a broadband internet access 
provider's control, such as equipment, software, or viruses and 
malware, may affect a person's broadband internet access 
service. The Committee expects the Commission to account for 
these factors when developing this process. The Committee also 
intends for the FCC to seek specific recommendations from the 
public on how best to craft this crowdsourcing system as part 
of the rulemaking required by section 3 of S. 1822.
    Subsection (c) of this section would direct the Commission 
to hold workshops for Tribal governments in each of the 12 
Bureau of Indian Affairs regions to provide technical 
assistance with the collection and submission of data under S. 
1822. The subsection also would direct the FCC, in consultation 
with Indian Tribes, to review the need for such workshops.
    Subsection (d) of this section would direct the Commission 
to provide technical assistance to small service providers, 
which is defined as those providers with fewer than 100,000 
active broadband internet access service connections. This 
technical assistance would pertain to GIS data processing so 
that the small provider can comply with the data collection 
requirements of the bill.

Section 6. Cost.

    Subsection (a) of this section would require the Commission 
to include in its annual budget submission to the President an 
amount sufficient to ensure proper and continued functioning of 
its responsibilities under S. 1822. The Committee intends for 
the Commission to use the annual appropriations process as the 
means by which the agency shall pay for the costs of 
implementing the bill.
    Subsection (b) of this section would prohibit the 
Commission from using monies for Universal Service Fund 
programs collected pursuant to section 254 of the 
Communications Act of 1934, and the regulations issued by the 
FCC pursuant to that section, to pay for the costs associated 
with this Act. The Commission would, however, be allowed to 
recover costs associated with the implementation of S. 1822 
under section 9 of the Communications Act of 1934, to the 
extent provided for in an appropriations Act.

Section 7. Other provisions.

    Subsections (a) and (b) of this section would exempt the 
initial rulemaking under section 3(a)(1) of the bill from 
review by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and under 
the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA). This is intended to ensure 
that the first rulemaking is completed expeditiously. Future 
rulemakings, however, would be subject to both OMB review and 
the PRA.
    Subsection (c) of this section would provide a limitation 
that, aside from the ability of the FCC to enter into a 
contract related to the Fabric under section 3(b)(1)(A)(ii), 
the Commission, including the offices of the Commission, must 
carry out the responsibilities assigned to it under this bill. 
The FCC would not be permitted to delegate any of its assigned 
responsibilities to third parties, including the Universal 
Service Administrative Company.
    Finally, subsection (d) of this section would direct the 
Commission to submit to the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
Transportation of the Senate and the Committee on Energy and 
Commerce of the House of Representatives a yearly report that 
summarizes its implementation of the bill and associated 
enforcement activities conducted during the previous fiscal 
year.

                        Changes in Existing Law

    In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee states that the 
bill as reported would make no change to existing law.

                                  [all]