FCC aiming to improve broadband mapping to better serve rural areas

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WASHINGTON D.C. (NEXSTAR) -For many Americans living in rural areas, getting reliable internet is tough if not altogether impossible. But the FCC says it’s working hard to address the problem and encouraging the private sector to get involved too.

But high-speed internet service is still only a dream for many rural communities.

One issue is broadband mapping. The maps created by service providers frequently fail to accurately show where the service actually works and where it doesn’t.

The Federal Communications Commission says it is committed to fixing the maps, so communities can use them to apply for the funding they need to improve their broadband service.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai says fixing America’s digital divide is one of his top priorities.

“I think the basic problem is that we are a very big country, we have many parts of the country that are sparsely populated.”

As part of that effort, Pai says he wants the FCC to invest more than 20-billion dollars into expanding broadband with a focus on getting more companies involved in providing rural service.

“From our perspective any company, any technology that could be brought to bear on this problem, we want to encourage more of them to participate,” Pai said.

Mike Romano, of NTCA, The Rural Broadband Association, represents many of the small, locally-operated companies that provide internet access to less populated areas.

“It’s just a constantly evolving process, where we’ll make steps to deploy broadband in certain places, sustain it in others, and then keep building upon that,” Romano said. “Finding the resources to enable private actors, private enterprise to invest in these areas is job one.”

Pai says Congress has so far been supportive of these efforts.

“Unfortunately there is no quick silver bullet so to speak, but from our perspective at least I take an all of the above approach,” Pai said.

An approach everyone involved hopes will work to get all Americans connected.

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