A group of Maryland lawmakers, including Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen, have sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) urging the agency to update and improve its broadband mapping data accuracy for the state. The letter, also signed by Maryland Democratic Reps. Steny Hoyer, Dutch Ruppersberger, John Sarbanes, Kweisi Mfume, Jamie Raskin, David Trone and Glenn Ivey, calls for better accuracy in the national broadband map being developed by the FCC.
The lawmakers believe that a broadband map is a crucial tool for understanding the country’s broadband access state. The map will also determine how much funding each state needs to increase connectivity. Maryland will receive base funding of $100 million from the Broadband, Equity, Access, and Deployment program (BEAD), and the accuracy of the FCC mapping will impact equitable broadband funding.
The lawmakers’ recommendation to update the FCC’s national broadband map data is based on comments made by the Maryland Office of Statewide Broadband, which found approximately 3,800 addresses incorrectly identified as serviceable by internet service providers compared to the state’s information on unserved locations, according to the letter.
“Inaccurate data will result in unfair funding allocations,” the lawmakers said. “As such, we ask the FCC to consider reviewing additional data from states through the end of March.” The lawmakers also noted that inaccurate mapping data primarily impacts households in Western Maryland and the state’s Eastern Shore.
The national broadband map lists Hughes Network, Viasat, T-Mobile, Verizon and Comcast as Maryland’s top five high-speed internet providers. The lawmakers’ letter also calls for deploying high-speed internet networks, developing digital skills training programs, connecting with communities without access and improving digital inclusion.
The FCC is required to develop a national broadband map under the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act. The map will provide insight into which areas are better served with high-speed internet and will be used to determine federal funding for improving connectivity.