FCC won’t punish Verizon and T-Mobile for exaggerating their coverage maps

From The Verge: Verizon, T-Mobile, and US Cellular overstated their 4G coverage in rural communities across the country, a Federal Communications Commission investigation determined on Wednesday. Despite the Commission’s findings, it will not punish the carriers in any way.

Throughout its investigation, the FCC staff ran speed and coverage tests in rural areas across the country to determine whether consumers were receiving sufficient download speeds. According to the FCC’s report, “only 62.3 percent of staff drive tests” met those thresholds. US Cellular achieved it only 45 percent of the time, while T-Mobile and Verizon met the standard at around 60 percent of the time. The FCC staff was unable to receive any 4G signal in 38 percent of US Cellular’s tests, 21.3 percent of T-Mobile’s, and 16.2 percent of Verizon’s.

In its report detailing the findings, the FCC wrote, “Overstating mobile broadband coverage misleads the public and can misallocate our limited universal service funds, and thus it must be met with meaningful consequences.” Outside of punishing carriers, the FCC staff recommended that the Commission assemble a team of staffers to audit the accuracy of the mobile broadband maps sent in from carriers and require carriers to “submit actual on-the-ground evidence of network performance.”

T-Mobile stood by its maps, but told The Verge that it agrees “with the FCC that there is an opportunity to improve their procedures for collection of broadband coverage data for the Mobility Fund maps.” A spokesperson for US Cellular said “that the parameters adopted by the Commission for the submittal of broadband coverage maps would result in overstated coverage, so the conclusions in the staff report come as no surprise to us.”

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