Vol. 17, No. 31
August 9, 2021
FCC Releases First-of-its-Kind Mobile Broadband Map
The FCC last week published a new map showing mobile coverage and availability data in the U.S. This information was voluntarily submitted by the country’s largest wireless providers prior to the FCC's Broadband DATA Act requirements going into effect.

This is the first public map showing updated mobile coverage released by the FCC and represents a significant improvement over other data previously published by the agency. It also serves as a public test of the standardized criteria developed to facilitate improved mapping under the Broadband DATA Act.

This map provides a preview of how the mobile data the FCC will collect under the Act's standards will look when mapped. The FCC claims that never before have maps been created using these new, standardized mobile data specifications, which will improve the uniformity and consistency of broadband availability data collected by the FCC. This map will allow consumers to search by specific address to better understand whether they should be able to make and receive voice calls or use wireless data. The map separately shows 4G LTE broadband data and voice mobile coverage as of May 15, 2021, for each of the nation’s four largest mobile carriers.
NTIA Issues Notice of Funding Opportunity for
Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program
The NTIA released a notice of funding opportunity for the Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Program, which will direct $268 million for expanding broadband access and connectivity to eligible historically Black colleges or universities, tribal colleges or universities, minority-serving institutions and consortia led by an HBCU, TCU or MSI that also include a minority business enterprise or tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization. The notice outlines the requirements for grant applications and other program information.

Completed applications are due December 1, 2021.
White House Updates Fact Sheet on Infrastructure and Jobs Act
The White House updated its fact sheet on the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which is currently being considered by the Senate. The proposed legislation includes $550 billion of new federal investment in America’s infrastructure.

On broadband, the White House said the bill will invest $65 billion to ensure every American has access to reliable high-speed internet. It will also help lower prices for internet service by:
  • Requiring funding recipients to offer a low-cost affordable plan
  • Requiring providers to display a broadband nutrition label to help families comparison shop for a better deal
  • Boosting competition in areas where existing providers are not providing adequate service.

The White House further said the bill will help close the digital divide by:
  • Passing the Digital Equity Act
  • Requiring the FCC to adopt rules banning digital redlining
  • Creating a permanent program to help more low-income households access the internet.
Rep. Hudson Introduced Bill to Expand Rural Broadband Access
Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) introduced the 21st Century Broadband Deployment Act, which is designed to expand broadband access in rural and unserved communities. To promote broadband deployment, Rep. Hudson's legislation establishes two grant programs at the NTIA that will award up to $20 billion and $3 billion each over five years. These grant programs would require the NTIA to use maps created by the FCC to ensure that federal broadband reaches unserved and rural areas. The programs also would promote public-private partnerships that have streamlined their permitting process so that federal support pays for broadband expansion, not red tape.