The FCC releases detailed broadband coverage maps

Take the editor: A quick test of the service using my home address proved insightful. In addition to a few ISPs I was already familiar with that offered fixed service, I learned that several providers including SpaceX and HughesNet serve my area with satellite internet.

The Federal Communications Commission has launched an interactive broadband map that provides a snapshot of broadband coverage across the United States.

Maps highlighting the availability of various services are nothing new (remember those early maps of spotty cell phone coverage?). The FCC has maintained broadband coverage maps for a while but up until this point, they were based on data collected at the census block level. This means that if one home in a census block is served by broadband, the entire block will appear as presented on its maps regardless of whether or not other homes have access to the service.

The census block method led to coverage maps that were overly optimistic and did not represent actual broadband availability.

The The FCC’s new broadband map, now available as a pre-production draft, combines data directly from broadband providers and “hundreds of location-specific data sources” to paint a more accurate picture. Now, consumers can plug in their addresses and see which ISPs they claim to provide the service as well as what technology they use and even the maximum available upload and download speeds. There is also a system in place for consumers to challenge inaccuracies and provide feedback if the data does not match what they know to be true.

The FCC’s Enhanced Coverage Map can be incredibly handy when considering a move, especially in a post-pandemic world where many people are now working from home and must have connectivity in their residences.

FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel Believes The enhanced transparency of the new map will create market pressure on service providers to improve their coverage and help policymakers target underserved communities to narrow the digital divide.

Rosenworcel added that the new broadband maps mark the beginning, not the end point. “The release of this early version of the new maps is intended to start an ongoing iterative process where we are constantly adding new data to improve and refine the maps,” she added.

Image credit: Micah BaumeisterAnd the Alina Grobnyak

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