Northwest Lawmakers Praise Legislation To Improve Rural Broadband Map

The Broadband DATA Act recently signed into law will look at improving efforts to deploy broadband access to rural portions of the country. Portions of the legislation included the Broadband Data Improvement Act, sponsored by eastern Washington’s Cathy McMorris Rodgers. She said her priority is making sure the broadband maps used by federal officials to determine where broadband access is and is not are as accurate as possible.

“This is a priority issue making sure our rural communities are connected.  That we are closing the rural digital divide.”

McMorris Rodgers noted if Washington farmers, and small Washington town are going to succeed, they need to be connected to the best infrastructure available.

“The 21st Century economy is focused on technology and innovation, and we must make sure that our rural communities are not being left behind.  Today, the federal government is spending billions of dollars on rural broadband, through the FCC, through USDA Rural Development and yet too often, it doesn’t go to the places that it is most needed.”

When pointing out how inaccurate the broadband maps are, McMorris Rodgers said the federal government believes 97% of Ferry County has broadband connection, which she said is simply not true. In addition to improving the mapping, the Broadband DATA Act will boost connectivity, and make sure our limited resources are used to deploy broadband in communities that need it most.

“I applaud President Trump for recognizing the critical need of improved broadband mapping and signing this bill into law,” said eastern Washington Representative Greg Walden. “Expanding and improving broadband mapping is imperative for Oregon’s rural communities, especially as our nation responds to the coronavirus. Far too many Oregonians, as well as millions of citizens who live in rural America, lack access to reliable internet service. Before we can expand broadband to communities who lack access, we must study where broadband funding would be most effective. Accurate maps are key to improving rural broadband, and this legislation would bring us one step closer to achieving that.”

 In 2018, Walden brought Chairman Pai out to eastern Oregon to discuss efforts to improve connectivity in rural communities, including making sure patients in remote areas have access to the best doctors through technology like Telehealth.

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