Congress Gets Closer to Forcing a Broadband Census

The Senate on Friday passed a bill aimed at improving information about broadband competitiveness — or lack thereof. Following similar legislation that passed the House last fall, the Broadband Data Improvement Act act was passed in the Senate. Now the two sides must hash out a compromise bill and send it to the president. Given that the federal election is just weeks away, this may take a while, if it happens at all.

The bill does a couple of things, among them ordering the Federal Communications Commission to gather data regarding advanced telecommunications services on an annual, rather than periodic, basis. It also adds a question to the Census that assesses levels of residential computer use, and asks subscribers whether they have dial-up or broadband Internet access.  For more, check out the press release on the bill’s passage. But don’t get your hopes too high. Carriers have for years worked to keep data on broadband penetration and speeds as difficult to find and compare as possible.