Georgia Congressional Delegation Fights to Close Digital Divide

Staff Report

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA), U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler (R-GA), and 10 members of the Georgia congressional delegation sent a letter urging Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai to utilize Georgia’s recently completed location-level broadband maps as the federal government works to improve access to high-speed internet. 

The letter was led by U.S. Senator Perdue and signed by U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler and U.S. Representatives Sanford Bishop (D-GA-02), Tom Graves (R-GA-14),  Rob Woodall (R-GA-07), Austin Scott (R-GA-08), Doug Collins (R-GA-09), Buddy Carter (R-GA-01), Rick Allen (R-GA-12), Barry Loudermilk (R-GA-11), Jody Hice (R-GA-10) and Drew Ferguson (R-GA-03).

“Since becoming FCC Chairman in January 2017, your top priority has rightfully been to close the urban-rural digital divide,” they wrote. “The COVID-19 pandemic has served only to exacerbate this divide, as critical services like telemedicine, teleworking and virtual classrooms have been out of reach for far too many households, but especially, rural ones.” 

“While the FCC’s numerous efforts to promote rural broadband are encouraging, the digital divide cannot be closed until the Commission has access to better data and maps,” they added. “In the interim, the state of Georgia has taken the initiative to develop its own broadband maps, becoming the first state in the nation to utilize an enhanced location-level methodology to map broadband access with a high degree of precision. These maps shed light on a truly distressing reality.”

“We implore you to work with the State of Georgia to utilize its mapping data as soon as possible to ensure that Georgia’s unserved communities are not preempted from these critical initiatives,” they concluded.

Recently, the state completed the Georgia Broadband Map project, which pinpointed over 250,000 locations that FCC maps inaccurately claim have broadband access. When federal support for broadband investment is based on incorrect mapping data, many eligible Georgian communities are unfairly shut out of the process from the start. This has massive implications on the allocation of billions of dollars in universal service funding, including through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund and the recently proposed 5G Fund for Rural America. 

Currently, more than a million Georgians lack access to reliable high-speed internet service.

The full text of the letter is available here.