The FCC said it was investigating whether “one or more major carriers” violated rules of a broadband program that plans on spending $4.5 billion to help bring 4G LTE access to rural residents.
An FCC program to bring high-speed internet access to US rural areas has been put on hold because mobile carriers may have submitted bad coverage data to the plan.
On Friday, the FCC said it was investigating whether “one or more major carriers” violated rules of the rural broadband program and supplied the incorrect coverage data.
“In order to reach those (rural) areas, it’s critical that we know where access is and where it is not,” FCC chairman Ajit Pai said in calling for the investigation.
A lot of money is at stake. The FCC’s program plans on allocating $4.5 billion to wireless providers over the next decade to help subsidize 4G LTE access in rural communities.
The goal is to allocate the money to rural areas in need. So the commission has been trying to formulate an “eligibility map,” which is based on coverage data provided by the mobile carriers. The only problem is that the carrier-provided data isn’t matching with actual speed test numbers the FCC has been receiving from 37 states.
“A preliminary review of speed test data submitted through the challenge process suggested significant violations of the Commission’s rules,” Pai said on Friday. “That’s why I’ve ordered an investigation into these matters. We must ensure that the data is accurate before we can proceed.”
Pai didn’t name which carriers provided the bad data, or specifiy how the coverage numbers were incorrect. But FCC commissioner Brendan Carr said he also supported the investigation. In a statement, Carr said he’s been hearing firsthand from rural residents and wireless providers across the US about the challenges of getting 4G LTE access.
“It’s more than a frustrating inconvenience. It limits access to economic opportunity, to a 21st century education, and to high-quality telehealth applications,” Carr said. “That’s why it’s so important to ensure the data underlying our broadband maps are accurate.”