FCC Reportedly Investigating if Internet Providers Exaggerated Coverage

The news comes as the Biden administration prepares $42.5 billion to increase broadband access.

David Lumb Mobile Reporter
David Lumb is a mobile reporter covering how on-the-go gadgets like phones, tablets and smartwatches change our lives. Over the last decade, he's reviewed phones for TechRadar as well as covered tech, gaming, and culture for Engadget, Popular Mechanics, NBC Asian America, Increment, Fast Company and others. As a true Californian, he lives for coffee, beaches and burritos.
Expertise Smartphones | Smartwatches | Tablets | Telecom industry | Mobile semiconductors | Mobile gaming
David Lumb
2 min read
Phone showing the FCC logo, with an American flag in the background
Photo Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission is reportedly investigating whether broadband internet providers have misled the public about their coverage areas.

The agency declined to name the multiple service providers it's investigating for potentially exaggerating where they provide high-speed internet service, Bloomberg reported on Thursday. This comes as the government prepares to hand out $42.5 billion in subsidies for increasing internet access in rural and underserved areas, allocated from the $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill passed in late 2021. 

The FCC has been marking areas covered by service providers on new publicly available maps so people can see if they should be able to get internet access where they live. The first versions of the new maps were launched in November. The agency pledged to keep them updated with data collected and sent by internet providers, including carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile.

Locating local internet providers

"Verizon shares the FCC's goal of creating an accurate broadband map, and we have been careful to submit the information about our broadband availability that the FCC's rules require," read a Verizon statement provided to CNET. "We continue to work closely with the FCC staff as it refines and improves the mapping process."

"The FCC has not expressed a concern with our filings, which were submitted in June 2022 following the required guidelines," said a T-Mobile spokesperson.

Locating local internet providers

CTIA, the trade organization representing the wireless industry, likewise noted that its members had submitted maps based on data from June 2022 per the FCC's guidance and that it wasn't aware of any investigations into those filings. "Providers are currently working closely and collaboratively with the FCC to provide updated filings from December of last year as part of a normal update cycle," it said in a statement. 

In response to questions about the FCC's coverage map inaccuracies from members of Congress, FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a Feb. 3 letter that "we have taken several steps to prevent systematic overreporting of coverage by broadband service providers."

"In fact, we already have an investigation underway," Rosenworcel wrote.