The Importance of Accurate Broadband Maps
Federal and state funding and grants help cooperatives like HTC deliver much-needed broadband to rural areas. However, criteria for this funding is heavily weighted on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) outdated National Broadband Map.
Even the FCC has recognized that its map has significant gaps in accurately depicting where high speed internet is and isn’t available in rural America. Data for this map has traditionally been collected at the census block level, which means an entire census block could be categorized as ‘served,’ and ineligible for funding, if just one business or residence in that block has access to broadband.
Thankfully, the FCC and Congress have identified the need to update the federal mapping process and are pushing for a digital data collection process focused on more pinpointed geospatial broadband data, instead of sweeping census block areas. Leaders in Washington are also pushing for more accountability and accuracy in the way that larger carriers report areas they serve. In fact, bipartisan legislation addressing this issue recently passed in the House and the Senate.
As more federal and state funding becomes available for rural broadband deployment, cooperatives like HTC are fighting to ensure this money is spent more efficiently. More accurate broadband mapping will be a tremendous advancement for our industry, and more importantly, will better enable cooperatives like HTC – and other telecommunications cooperatives – to continue to fulfill its mission to connect rural America.
HTC is committed to working with our allies across the state and in Washington to address these challenges and continue to expand broadband access and economic opportunities to our members.