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Federal broadband legislation moving forward

On March 4, the House of Representatives passed the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act (S. 1822). The bill, approved by the Senate last year, will now go to President Trump for his signature.

“Reliable access to broadband is no longer a luxury but a necessity for farmers, ranchers and their rural communities,” said Zippy Duvall, American Farm Bureau Federation president. “This legislation will create a more accurate National Broadband Map, which will help ensure resources are targeted to the areas that need it most. Farm Bureau thanks members of both chambers who diligently worked to pass this legislation and are committed to ensuring all Americans, including those in rural communities, have broadband in their homes, at their businesses, and on their farms.”

The DATA Act requires broadband providers to report more specific data to create a significantly more accurate and granular National Broadband Map. With more precise data, federal agencies can target funding to areas that need it most. Current broadband coverage maps are inadequate because they rely on census block data to determine which areas are covered. Census blocks are too large in rural and remote locations to accurately determine need. If even one household in a given census block is reported by a provider as being served, then the entire block is considered served. Census blocks larger than 2 square miles comprise more than 64% of the U.S. land area, so every rural area is impacted by this problem in some way.

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