U.S. telecom regulators are trying to fix faulty maps that don’t reflect which Americans have access to high-speed internet. And an industry trade group is offering its own mapping plan.

Lawmakers and public-interest groups have lambasted the Federal Communications Commission for inaccurate maps that overstate coverage and hinder government efforts to subsidize internet service in unserved rural areas.

A big part of the problem is how the FCC measures coverage. The country is divided into census blocks, which can stretch hundreds of square miles in rural areas. The FCC now considers the entire block served even if just one location has service.

The problem (and the solution) with mapping broadband in North Carolina

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced during a Senate hearing Wednesday that he wants phone and cable companies to be more specific about where they offer service and for maps to incorporate public feedback. A vote is planned in August.

Legislation from a bipartisan group of senators also seeks to address the problem through the “Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (Broadband DATA) Act.”

Meanwhile, communications industry trade group USTelecom says it and a group of providers continue to develop their own initiative that was announced in March. (More about the initiative is available online.)

Jonathan Spalter, president and CEO of USTelecom acknowledged the Senate bill, noting:

“Chairman [Roger] Wicker and Senators [Gary] Peters, [John] Thune and [Amy] Klobuchar understand that fixing our national broadband map goes hand in hand with closing the digital divide and ensuring federal resources reach communities without access to broadband. When USTelecom established the Broadband Mapping Initiative just three months ago, we hoped our concept would not only produce more granular data on broadband service, but serve as a scalable tool for lawmakers to increase broadband in all corners of the country.

“We appreciate the leadership of these senators and stand ready to make an accurate national broadband map a reality and help deliver connectivity from coast to coast.”

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