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Bill Aims to Gather Better Data About Internet Service Areas

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Bad data on service and quality from internet service providers is frustrating to many members of Congress on both sides of the aisle.

Now one Virginia congressman is doing something about it.

Earlier this year, the Federal Communications Commission claimed that the number of Americans who lack access to broadband had dropped 25% since 2017. As it turns out, that stat was based on an error by one provider that skewed results.

Now Richmond-area Congressman Donald McEachin has a bill to punish internet service providers who submit false numbers.   “Without these services, businesses and jobs relocate, community health suffers from less connected hospitals and less connected providers and too many children lack much needed internet access to complete their homework.”

Congressman Mike Doyle of Pennsylvania is chairman of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology.  “Our government can’t make good broadband policy if we don’t know where we do and where we don’t have broadband, and we will never know where we have it if there are no penalties for submitting false or inaccurate data.”

The bill has 25 Republican co-sponsors, and has received widespread support on both sides of the aisle. Earlier this month, it sailed through the House with a unanimous vote.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.