House & Senate agree on better broadband data

While Wall Street and the U.S. economy burn, Congress approved a bill on Monday that will improve the collection of U.S. broadband deployment data and hand out $40 million to groups working to spur broadband adoption.

The bill, S. 1492, passed the Senate unanimously on Friday and the House of Representatives approved it on Monday with minor revisions; the House wants broadband summary reports to be sent to the Senate and House Commerce Committees, rather than just to the Senate.

Under the bill, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) must come up with a better definition of broadband than its current paltry 200 Kbps benchmark, report broadband access by nine-digit ZIP codes, rather than five, and create a $40 million, five-year matching grant program for organizations that work to stimulate broadband adoption.

The FCC has already moved to improve data collection on broadband access, ruling that ISPs have to start providing data on the percentage of subscribers who are residential clients based upon census tract areas. But House and Senate members and other advocacy groups have requested better reporting out of the Commission.

For more:
- PCmag.com reports on House and Senate action on the broadband bill. Article.

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