Press Release: FCC Efforts to Track Broadband Have Failed

MINNEAPOLIS, MINN. (April 24, 2020) - The Federal Communications Commission has concluded that broadband is being deployed “on a reasonable and timely basis” across America.

The FCC has admitted on many occasions that it does not know who has broadband or where it is available. Congress has told the FCC to fix its failed data collection. States have had to develop their own approaches because they cannot rely on the FCC’s deployment data. Georgia found that the FCC massively overestimates rural broadband availability.

In relation to the data collection used to justify its conclusion, FCC Commissioners have said the following things:

Chairman Pai: “It’s often said that you can’t manage what you can’t measure.”

Commissioner O’Rielly: “I appreciate the hard work that went into this item to fix the Commission’s broken mapping process.”

Commissioner Carr: “The FCC created the form almost 20 years ago to assess local voice competition and collect data on advanced telecommunications. Back then, less than half of Americans had Internet access at home, and almost all of those were on dial-up. Yet today, we’re still using substantially the same form to assess the deployment of networks that weren’t imagined at the time of the FCC’s 2000 Data Collection Order.”

The following comments can be attributed to Christopher Mitchell, Director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance.

The FCC does not know how many Americans can access broadband. It has failed at one of its most basic tasks.

This month, the FCC’s Connect America Fund is giving millions of dollars to bankrupt companies like Windstream and Frontier to deliver obsolete Internet access that is slower than the Commission’s own outdated definition of broadband. It is spending $120 million on satellite subsidies that make it harder to deploy broadband in rural areas.

The FCC has failed America. Americans must demand better from every elected official on the ballot if they want any hope for the future in this pandemic.

About Christopher Mitchell

Christopher Mitchell is the Director of the Community Broadband Networks initiative with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. He is a leading national expert on community networks, advising high-ranking broadband decision-makers and speaking on radio and television programs across the United States. For more information and to schedule an interview with Christopher, call Sushmita Shrestha at 612-540-5997 or email


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