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Tonko Sends Letter to FCC Calling Out Faulty U.S. Broadband Maps

Constituent complaints reveal major gaps in broadband assessments in Capital Region

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Washington, November 9, 2017 | comments
"My constituents have repeatedly expressed longstanding frustrations with their limited access to broadband Internet service. I have heard from doctors who depend on the Internet to read X-rays when they are on call, from librarians who see students sitting in the parking lot after hours so they can finish homework, from workers who are forced to leave their home to find high enough speeds that they can upload and download large files. They all ask ‘When will we have access to broadband?’ As a nation, we owe all of these people an answer.” - Rep. Paul Tonko
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WASHINGTONRep. Paul Tonko (D-NY) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai earlier today calling for an immediate review of the census-based broadband Internet service maps the agency uses to set U.S. federal policies around high-speed Internet access. Those maps rely heavily on census data and consider an entire area to have broadband access if any house in the census block has access.

Rep. Tonko’s letter reads in part:

“My constituents have repeatedly expressed longstanding frustrations with their limited access to broadband Internet service. I have heard from doctors who depend on the Internet to read X-rays when they are on call, from librarians who see students sitting in the parking lot after hours so they can finish homework, from workers who are forced to leave their home to find high enough speeds that they can upload and download large files. They all ask ‘When will we have access to broadband?’ As a nation, we owe all of these people an answer.”

Tonko added his concern that the FCC is also currently working to lower U.S. broadband Internet standards:

“[T]he FCC has also developed a more recent tendency to lower standards for the quality of broadband that residents in rural areas should be able to expect. This has important consequences for small business and job creation, industry development, workforce training and more. The FCC should be focused on increasing buildout requirements for companies that receive funding from the FCC.  In this way, the Commission could ensure that Americans have access to genuine high-speed Internet with fast enough download and upload speeds to be able to compete in the U.S. and global economies.”

The full letter can be found here.

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