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FCC finally has accurate broadband maps

On June 30, the Federal Communications Commission opened the first ever window to collect information from broadband providers in every state and territory about precisely where they provide broadband services. I announced the opening of the window with a Note to put this milestone in context and to explain in detail the Commission’s work over the previous 18 months to update and improve our broadband maps. Today marks the close of this first data collection window—the next important step forward in our efforts to build more accurate broadband maps, which are much-needed, long overdue, and mandated by Congress.

I wanted to give everyone a quick update on what we’ve done, what we’re announcing today, and what people can expect in the months ahead.

What we’ve done

  • I reached out and talked to broadband leaders in over 50 states and territories to offer to help walk them through this process.
  • We reached out to every provider on the phone and over e-mail to encourage filings, explain the process, and offer technical assistance.
  • We held workshops and directly reached out to Tribal entities as well as Tribal ISPs to explain the filing process and upcoming challenge processes.
  • We convened meetings with groups representing local governments.
  • We partnered with the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on additional outreach to connect with providers and state broadband leaders.
  • We reached out to stakeholders on Capitol Hill to keep them up-to-speed on our actions.

What we’re announcing

  • Last night, we completed the first filing window for submitting data on where broadband service is and is not available.
  • For the first time ever, we have collected extensive location-by-location data on precisely where broadband services are available, and now we are ready to get to work and start developing new and improved broadband maps.

What’s next

  • We are targeting November 2022 for release of the first draft of the map.
  • Our Fabric challenge process will begin in 10 days.
  • The Fabric is the first-ever national dataset capturing individual locations that should have fixed broadband service availability. It is the product of integrating multiple data sources for each state and territory—in other words, hundreds of data sources. These data sources include, among other things, address records, tax assessment records, imagery and building footprints, Census data, land use records, parcel boundaries, and geo-spatial road and street data. Our old broadband maps, in contrast, lacked any of this location-specific information.
  • Broadband providers reported their own availability data to the locations identified in the Fabric.
  • We are continually working to improve our Fabric through additional data sources, such as LIDAR data and new satellite and aerial imagery sources, as they become available and through our upcoming challenge processes.
  • States, local governments, Tribal governments, and providers can now access the initial Fabric data, and, in 10 days we will open up a window for them to challenge this data.

Once the maps are released, we will open a process for the public and other stakeholders to make challenges directly through the map interface.
Looking ahead, there’s one more important thing to note about the new maps. When the first draft is released, it will provide a far more accurate picture of broadband availability in the United States than our old maps ever did. That’s worth celebrating. But our work will in no way be done. That’s because these maps are iterative. They are designed to updated, refined, and improved over time.

Broadband providers are constantly updating and expanding their networks. We have set up a process to make sure our maps will reflect these changes and yield more precise data over time. We have also built a process in which state, local and Tribal governments, other third parties and, perhaps most importantly, consumers, will be able to give us feedback on the maps and help us continually improve and refine the data we receive from providers. All of this will require persistent effort—from the agency, providers, and other stakeholders. The Commission is committed to doing this hard work and keeping the public informed of our efforts every step of the way. BCS Bureau

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