Long Past Due for Broadband Maps
Washington, D.C. — During the years that we all have been debating whether we have enough broadband or fast enough broadband, one interesting little detail has always been true — we really don’t know where broadband is available nor do we know what speeds are available. Remarkably, we’ve been flying blind in analyzing broadband policy in the absence of this basic data. Although the FCC provides some data on broadband availability, it is universally recognized — even by the FCC itself — that the data is inadequate. The FCC data does not specifically indentify locations where broadband is not available, nor does it differentiate based on the speed of services.Where the federal government has failed, states often fill the void. And that is partially the case with broadband maps. States like Kentucky have used detailed broadband maps to identify unserved areas, resulting in dramatic improvements in broadband availability. California is currently in the process of developing a detailed broadband map, using data at the address level and identifying service speed tiers as well. Only with data like this will it be possible to scope the problem and design effective programs to lead to ubiquitous broadband availability.The Congress is moving its attention to broadband mapping this year. The House Energy and Commerce Committee is scheduled to mark up a bill on broadband mapping this week. Hopefully, the final product that comes out of Congress will produce the very detailed maps that states are finding effective in working to bridge the digital divide.