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Addendum: Granular Broadband Mapping

February 18, 2022
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WRITTEN BY Dr. Tomy Granzier-Nakajima

Executive Summary 

The current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) method for determining broadband deployment relies on inaccurate methods which overstate broadband deployment across the nation. In 2020, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act became federal law and implemented new requirements for the FCC to obtain more detailed, granular level broadband service availability data. While the FCC has not yet met these requirements, states are pursuing different types of granular broadband availability mapping efforts of their own. 

Highlights 

  • The FCC is taking steps to meet broadband mapping requirements set forth in the federal Broadband DATA Act. It has established how it will collect more detailed location specific broadband availability data from broadband service providers and started to create a database of broadband serviceable locations in the United States.
  • West Virginia, as one example, provides an “address level” map which differentiates address locations with internet speeds above and below the FCC broadband benchmark.
  • As another example, Kansas has developed a “street level” broadband availability map, indicating coverage at the street level.

Limitations 

  • Because efforts to implement granular level broadband availability maps are fairly recent, there is a lack of research on the effect of granular level mapping on broadband deployment compared to maps with lower spatial resolution.
  • It is not always clear how accurate state-level broadband deployment maps are. West Virginia does not guarantee that it comprehensively accounts for all broadband serviceable locations, and Kansas’s map has not been recently validated.

 

This Note is an addendum to a previous Science Note on Broadband Availability Mapping.

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