Internet For All: Let the Process Work
Last year, the Federal Communications Commission released its nationwide broadband availability map. If you don’t know, a broadband connection is anything faster than a 25 Mbps download speed and a 3 Mbps upload speed. Translation: that’s the speed you need to watch a 4K movie or conduct a Zoom meeting.
The map’s release is part of a long-term federal project to make broadband available for the entire country, giving priority to underserved rural and low-income areas. For instance, thousands of Louisianans today don’t have reliable internet access. Obviously, this is a problem for rural professionals in various fields in a highly connected digital world.
Ultimately, the project is seeking to close the “digital divide.” And to close that divide, they needed to know where it exists. Therefore, they began a process for the project to determine where the divide existed in each state. Broadband mapping is essential to determine where service exists — and where it doesn’t.
The mapping process was simple: last year, the FCC released its new and improved map and allowed public input. It is known as their “challenge process” and will help enhance the map’s accuracy.
If people within a community see an inaccuracy—like a service being shown where it didn’t exist—they can submit a challenge directly to the FCC. These challenges will be accepted and updates made to the maps on a rolling basis.
Moreover, the FCC also accepted “bulk” challenges from state, tribal, or local governments. The process was set up to ensure the maps were consistently improving. The initially released map was an improvement over the old system, which “simply stated if service was available on the basis of a single subscriber in a census block.” It was also enhanced due to the input process.
The maps are out now. Have you had a chance to take a look? You can learn more about the maps and how to challenge them here.