The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) tomorrow will release for public consumption the first draft of a new U.S. broadband map, an important milestone on the path to connecting all Americans to robust broadband service.
Why It Matters: When fully completed in the spring, the map will identify broadband gaps and uncork billions of dollars of federal grants from the 2021 infrastructure bill to fund projects to close the digital divide.
A Note of Caution: The first map will contain inaccuracies. Mapping is a complex undertaking and this necessarily will be an iterative and complicated process. The challenge process will ideally correct most of these issues and provide a more accurate picture as subsequent maps are released.
- Though imperfect, this first draft will be a marked improvement over existing coverage maps.
- NCTA was a leader in calling for more accurate, detailed maps to replace the old data that frequently undercounted unserved areas.
Getting It Right: Over the coming months, stakeholders will work with the FCC to refine the draft, including correcting errors and omissions, so that there is a much more precise picture of locations that are unserved or underserved and get the map closer to a final version by mid-2023.
Credit Where It's Due: The process of developing a broadband map that encapsulates the enormity of the U.S. landmass is challenging. Thousands of people across the country are involved in this massive data collection process and the FCC deserves credit for reaching this milestone.
Bottom Line: The map project is far from done, but the FCC draft is a promising step forward and we will all work hard to get a final map that accurately shines a light on where we need to invest to connect all Americans to broadband.