Sinema: Fix Flawed Broadband Maps and Improve Rural Arizona’s Access to Broadband

Apr 10, 2019

Senator calls attention to faulty maps misleading Arizonans on broadband access and preventing communities from receiving resources
WASHINGTON – Arizona senior Senator Kyrsten Sinema today spoke at the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on broadband mapping and shared her concerns over the lack of quality broadband in rural and tribal communities in Arizona. Sinema underscored the need to fix faulty broadband maps that prevent broadband resources from flowing to underserved areas in Arizona.
“Members of the Havasupai Tribe in northern Arizona cannot access their online high school because they lack sufficient broadband. The first step to expanding broadband infrastructure is fixing severely flawed coverage maps. It is vitally important that we make these maps as accurate as possible, as soon as possible,” said Sinema, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee.  
Currently, the FCC largely relies on broadband providers to create the national broadband map. The map is not independently verified and often misrepresents coverage by showing a community served if one small part of that community has broadband service. However, the broadband map helps inform where billions of dollars in federal broadband funds should be directed. Inaccurate maps delay spending and misdirect broadband funds to the wrong places. 
Sinema asked the hearing’s witnesses which methods for fixing the broadband map are the most accurate and can be implemented the quickest. She also pressed the witnesses on how Arizonans can verify the accuracy of the information broadband providers submit. 
Today’s remarks followed a Commerce Committee hearing in February on 5G connectivity where Sinema shared the concerns of Arizonans living in Sunscape, an RV resort in Pinal County, who lacked reliable cell service. The residents could not reliably call 911 in the event of an emergency. Sinema underscored that in the conversation around 5G connectivity, all Arizonans must have reliable 3G connectivity. Shortly after the hearing, Verizon Wireless confirmed they would build a cell tower to service the residents of Sunscape.
Sinema is focused on making sure Arizona’s rural communities are afforded the same opportunities to stay connected as urban areas.