U.S. Sen. Mark R. Warner, D-Alexandria, is calling on Virginians to provide feedback on internet coverage in their communities. Last month, after a sustained push by Warner, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a new map with their best estimates of broadband coverage across the country.
Now, Warner is asking Virginians to review the FCC map to ensure it accurately reflects the current broadband options available at their address. Funding from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) – the bipartisan infrastructure law negotiated and written by Warner – will be allocated to states proportionally based on the number of individuals living in each state who do not have access to high-speed internet. If Virginians disagree with the information in the map, they should challenge the map through the FCC website. While challenges will be accepted on a rolling basis, Virginians must submit their challenges by January 13, to ensure that it is adjudicated prior to the allocation of IIJA funding.
“There are folks all over rural Virginia who know that the FCC broadband map isn’t always accurate,” said Warner. “Now is the time to make sure that it is using the best data available, so Virginia can get the investments to which it is entitled and achieve the goal of universal broadband access.”
In an email to constituents, Warner asked households to look up their address on the FCC Broadband Map website and make sure that the information available matches their broadband experience. If the FCC has incorrect information about either the address or coverage options, individuals can submit a “Location Challenge” or “Availability Challenge” directly through the website in order to accurately reflect current accessibility.
In addition to challenges submitted by individuals, The Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development’s (DHCD) Office of Broadband is currently analyzing the data and is in the process of formulating a statewide challenge to the new FCC map. That challenge will include thousands of locations that are unserved but currently noted as served.
Ensuring this map is accurate is a crucial step to making sure that Virginia receives the investments needed to deploy universal broadband. Last month, Virginia received $5 million to help make a strategic plan to deploy coverage, courtesy of the bipartisan infrastructure law, and will be eligible for more once the initial plan is completed.
Warner has long fought to expand access to broadband in Virginia. During negotiations for the bipartisan infrastructure law, Warner secured $65 billion in funding to help deploy broadband, increase access, and decrease costs associated with connecting to the internet. The Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program, created and funded through this landmark legislation, provides $42.45 billion to expand high-speed internet access by funding planning, infrastructure deployment and adoption programs in all states and territories. An accurate map will play a critical role in ensuring that this funding is used efficiently.