The bill is more about laying the groundwork for gathering better rural broadband data than it is about funding. The Federal Communications Commission has been criticized for relying on internet service providers' self-reporting to assess rural broadband coverage. ISPs have an incentive to overstate their rural reach; it may help them qualify for federal funds. That and other issues have led to maps that could be more accurate. Though FCC data shows only 6.5 percent of the population lacks broadband access, crowdsourced data shows that the number is higher.
Under the DATA Act, the FCC would have to to create better rules to gather, monitor, verify and disseminate detailed broadband coverage data. "According to the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, the bill also would make it illegal to provide false information to the FCC and allows cooperatives, consumers, local governments and others to challenge FCC maps with data of their own," Postelwait reports.