WASHINGTON, D.C. – President Trump has signed legislation for a new initiative to improve the mapping of broadband availability across the United States, but FCC Chair Ajit Pai says the agency needs funding to begin implementation.

“I applaud the President for signing the Broadband DATA Act and thank the leadership of the Senate and House Commerce Committees for their bipartisan work in moving this legislation through Congress,” Pai said in a statement Tuesday.

Pai “also said it confirmed the FCC’s Digital Opportunity Data Collection approach, already in progress, to come up with more granular data that can be vetted by the public,” Multichannel News reported.

The law was passed as demands have grown to improve mapping of actual broadband capabilities from service providers.

North Carolina has its own mapping effort underway.

Digital divide persists in NC despite broadband availability; task force seeks to drive up usage

The “Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act” will “create a new national broadband map and improve broadband data collection,” according to USTelecom, the business group that represents broadband providers.

“At a time when the nation is collectively relying on its communications infrastructure more than ever, and the indispensability of broadband to families, businesses and educators is coming into full view, modernizing our broadband maps to increase connectivity and narrow the gaps in rural America couldn’t be more necessary,” said USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter.

“This was a bipartisan effort from start to finish and it shows in the final product. USTelecom members are proud to have played our part in helping to shape this game-changing mapping plan. Next step: Congress should fully fund this data-driven project so that future federal broadband spending in our nation will be based on the most accurate and granular map we’ve ever had. That’s a big deal.”

USTelecom says its own research has found that nearly 40 percent of rural areas reported under current mapping do not have broadband as indicated.

Read the full text of the bill online.