Washington, D.C. – During a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, Congressman Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.), the U.S. House Assistant Speaker, questioned Federal Communications Commissioners on the urgent need for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to address its flawed broadband maps and implement provisions that he authored in the Broadband DATA Act.
The Broadband DATA Act was signed into law in March and included Congressman Luján’s provisions to help consumers and local, Tribal, and state governments meaningfully participate in the collection of broadband data by empowering them to challenge flawed coverage maps.
“The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated many longstanding inequities in our country, including the digital divide. According to the FCC, more than 60 percent of New Mexicans living on Tribal lands – and more than 50 percent in rural communities – lack access to high-speed, fixed broadband,” said Luján. “This divide – especially during this pandemic – undermines businesses’ ability to thrive, students’ ability to learn, workers’ ability to telework, and patients’ ability to see their doctors.”
Congressman Luján also introduced into the record a new report from the American Library Association showing the success of the E-rate program in Tribal communities across New Mexico, which his Tribal Connect Act seeks to strengthen. The bicameral, bipartisan Tribal Connect Act expands Tribal libraries’ eligibility for E-rate and leverages the E-rate program to connect to Tribal anchor institutions, like chapter houses, Tribal colleges, and community centers.