FCC data exaggerates broadband access on tribal lands

Inaccurate data makes it hard to get broadband money to where it’s most needed.

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Broadband access in tribal areas is likely even worse than previously thought because Federal Communications Commission data overstates deployment, according to a new report by the US Government Accountability Office (GAO).

FCC data collection was already known to be suspect throughout the US, not just in tribal areas, which in turn makes it difficult for the FCC to target deployment funding to the areas that need it most. Tribal lands have less broadband access than most other parts of the US and thus may be disproportionately affected by the FCC's data collection problems.

"Residents of tribal lands have lower levels of broadband Internet access relative to the US as a whole, but the digital divide may be greater than currently thought," the GAO wrote. "FCC data overstated tribes' broadband availability and access to broadband service. These overstatements limit FCC and tribal users' ability to target broadband funding to tribal lands."

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