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FCC Approves Order to Help Close Broadband Gap

The Federal Communications Commission approved an order late last week to help better identify gaps in broadband coverage throughout rural America. An Agri-Pulse report says the agency will identify those gaps with a new data collection process.

The Commission had previously established a new process to gather data for broadband deployment maps. However, that process has drawn criticism for its inaccuracies.

The agency will try to collect more accurate broadband deployment data by communicating with internet service providers and also getting comments from the public on the accuracy of the service maps. FCC Commission Chair Ajit Pai says the agency will no longer count everyone in a census block as served by broadband if just one person in a census block is served.

A census block in an urban area could be one city block in an urban environment. However, a census block in a rural area could be hundreds of miles. Rural broadband advocates, Congress, as well as Secretary of Ag Sonny Perdue, have all criticized the FCC’s broadband access maps as inaccurate.

The agency’s most recent report shows that more than 21 million people have no access to high-speed broadband internet.

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