Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 13, 2022
(AUSTIN) — Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has asked the federal government to extend the deadline by 60 days for states and stakeholders to provide input on the accuracy of the proposed National Broadband Map (national map). The national map will be used to allocate federal funding to states to expand broadband in unserved and underserved communities.
On Nov. 18, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released its initial version of the national map, which displays location-by-location views of high-speed internet availability across the country, as reported by internet service providers (ISPs). It gave state and local officials until Jan. 13, 2023, to challenge the map’s accuracy. The FCC and National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) play a critical role as federal partners in allocating Texas’ share of the $42.5 billion provided through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act to the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program.
In a Dec. 13 letter to the FCC and NTIA offices, Hegar requested the federal government extend the deadline for states and individuals to file challenges to the national map by 60 days, to March 14, 2023; and to postpone release of the final map by 60 days, from May 15, 2023, to July 14, 2023.
“States and stakeholders need additional time to submit challenges to the proposed national map to provide critical, accurate information on the availability of broadband in their communities,” Hegar said. “This will ensure every dollar is fairly allocated using the most reliable data.”
Hegar is also asking the FCC and NTIA to postpone BEAD allocation announcements by 60 days so federal agencies may analyze and incorporate challenges to the national map. In addition, he is asking the federal government to align the BEAD award announcements with the release of the final map.
Hegar said it is imperative that Texans participate in the challenge process in time for the FCC to include updated data in the final national map. Any underestimation could potentially reduce Texas’ allocation by billions of dollars. Go to the Comptroller’s website for instructions on how to challenge the FCC map.
“This is clearly a flawed map,” Hegar said. “Some of the responsibility lies with the service providers who are overstating the coverage they provide in their territories. This practice has become so routine that we often don’t notice it, but it will substantially limit competition as well as our ability to accurately allocate resources to those Texans whose access is inadequate. Some of the responsibility lies with our federal partners who have assumed that public spaces like schools and libraries have access. This is inaccurate and reveals a lack of understanding regarding the challenges facing many communities in Texas and other states.
“I applaud all the hard work of so many trying to connect Texans and our nation, yet these issues are substantial hurdles that must be addressed to ensure we have accurate maps that support successful expansion of broadband access.
“My office will work with stakeholders and local governments around the state to establish the best possible avenues for challenging broad inaccuracies through the bulk challenge process,” Hegar said. “But it is critical that individual Texans also engage in the challenge process to ensure the maps are as accurate as possible and funds are fairly allocated to areas that lack service.”
The Texas Legislature created the Broadband Development Office in 2021 to award grants, low-interest loans and other financial incentives to ISPs that expand access to broadband service in underserved areas. The Comptroller’s office released the Texas Broadband Plan in June.
For more information about the Texas Broadband Development Office, go to BroadbandForTexas.com.