Welcome to another installment of In Our View, where from time to time, we use this space to share our thoughts on recent events playing out across the digital landscape and take the opportunity to draw attention to important but neglected broadband-related issues.
As its ongoing work to revamp the agency’s notoriously inaccurate broadband coverage maps continues, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced last week the opening of a window for states, local and Tribal governments, service providers, and other entities to challenge the service data submitted by providers over the summer.
At the end of June, as FCC chairwoman Jessica Ronsenworcel noted, the FCC “opened the first ever window to collect information from broadband providers in every state and territory about precisely where they provide broadband services.”
The key word here is “precisely” because the truth is: no one really knows precisely where broadband is, or is not, available. And with tens of billions of dollars in federal funding being spent to deploy high-speed Internet infrastructure, accurate mapping data is essential for targeting where those funds would be best allocated in each state and U.S. territory.
Historically, the FCC relied on self-reported submissions of Internet service providers (ISPs) for information on which locations they serve and what speeds are available at those addresses. However, in practice, that meant the FCC maps could declare an entire census block to be “served” by a broadband provider if that provider claimed the ability to serve just one home in the entire block; thereby overcounting how many households have access to broadband.
The Broadband DATA Act was passed to fix that glaring problem by requiring the FCC to use a more refined methodology to verify if the data submitted by ISPs is accurate.
To that end, the FCC will now rely on something called the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (BSLF), which will combine a...Read more