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Local News

Illinois Congressional representatives ask FCC to improve rural broadband

Farmer Vince Biros tills his fields in preparation for planting on Thursday April 30, 2015, in Mazon, Ill.
Farmer Vince Biros tills his fields in preparation for planting on Thursday April 30, 2015, in Mazon, Ill.

The entire Illinois Congressional Delegation in the U.S. House of Representatives sent a letter to the Federal Communications Commission chairman and board urging them to improve the nation’s broadband maps.

The delegation asked Chairman Ajit Pai and the four FCC commissioners to reform the mapping process for broadband services, according to a news release from the group. Those who signed onto the letter included local members of Congress like Reps. Bill Foster, Adam Kinzinger, Dan Lipinski and Lauren Underwood.

“As we work to repair and rebuild our nation’s infrastructure, we must ensure that those in rural America have access to high-quality and reliable fixed or mobile broadband,” the representatives said in the letter. “In addition to developing our nation’s rural economy, broadband helps expand educational horizons for students and allows rural health providers to offer more flexible and cost-effective delivery approaches.”

The members said they were concerned with the “significant lack of detail, accuracy and granularity of these broadcast maps.” They argued that one concerning example was that a geographic area may be considered served even though only a single location within it has access to fixed broadband service. This, they said, could result in a lack of important funding that could be used for those underserved areas.

They cited the FCC’s own recent annual “Broadband Development Report,” which found that more than 21 million Americans still lack access to high-speed internet service. However, the members argued, this number could be called into question as even more people might be underserved.

Specifically in Illinois, the letter said, representatives have seen cases in which some rural telecommunications carriers have been unable to apply for or receive funding due to inaccurate broadband maps.

Illinois members of Congress have previously voiced their concerns with the regulatory record of the FCC during the Trump administration.

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