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House Subcommittee Passes Broadband Data-Collection Bill

The Telecommunications & Internet Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee passed a bill, the ‘Broadband Census of America Act of 2007’, on October 10, 2007 (No bill number at this writing). The bill proposes to improve collection of data and mapping of broadband services across the country in order to promote the further buildout of these advanced services. The bill passed unanimously though there is still concern by some subcommittee members. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI), said that the bill would give the FCC too much access to sensitive corporate proprietary information. Meanwhile, another subcommittee member, Mike Doyle (D-PA), argued that there had to be adequate information available from the companies to make the proposal helpful.

Subcommittee Chair Ed Markey (D-MA) described the broadband bill as a bipartisan effort and noted that the bill shifts the gathering of pricing and service information from the companies to a consumer survey to be administered by the Federal Communications Committee (FCC). The bill will now go to the full Committee after other negotiations.

In a statement, Rep. John Dingell (D-MI), chair of the full House Energy and Commerce supported the proposal indicating:

…The bill will greatly improve the quality of Government-collected data concerning broadband availability. The bill also aims to assist underserved communities in taking concrete steps to improve broadband deployment in their areas. Much of this legislation is modeled after the very successful Connect Kentucky program, and it is my hope that this bill will enable our entire Nation to achieve the same results as Kentucky. Some details must be resolved before we move to full Committee markup, and I am committed to working to address concerns of my colleagues…

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Jacob Roberts is the communications specialist for the ALA Washington Office.

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