Progress reports sought by Fischer on development of broadband maps

U.S. Sen. Deb Fischer (R-NE) last week made a bipartisan request of several federal agencies to provide an update on their coordinated progress in creating the Deployment Locations Map, a publicly accessible interactive map that will display the network locations of broadband infrastructure projects funded by the federal government.

Sen. Fischer and U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV), members of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, seek to ensure the timely and successful completion of the map, which they helped secure last year as part of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act. The law requires the creation of a Deployment Locations Map within 18 months through an interagency process led by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Sen. Fischer and her colleague seek progress reports from the FCC, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the U.S. Treasury Department, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, according to separate March 24 letters they sent to each agency head. 

The senators wrote that there is a “strong congressional desire” to ensure that all federal agencies are coordinating on the funding they provide to support broadband infrastructure projects.

“In this manner, the federal government will be better positioned to avoid redundant network construction and maximize funding dedicated to critical broadband deployment efforts,” they wrote.

The lawmakers also wrote that absent a transparent overview of where the federal funding is going, it will be increasingly difficult for federal agencies to distribute resources where they are needed most, and without duplication.

“This is essential as more funding is invested in closing the digital divide,” they wrote. “Additionally, as state and local entities navigate forthcoming broadband funding opportunities, having this information available in a central location will aid in drafting better deployment plans for those applications.” 

Sen. Fischer and her colleague requested that each agency head provide them with answers to several questions by April 15 that are specific to each agency.

For instance, they want the FCC to describe the interagency process it is conducting and at what stage the commission currently is in in the process, among numerous other questions, while they asked the NTIA to explain what steps it has taken internally to compile specific broadband data necessary for the Deployment Locations Map to transmit to the FCC.