UPDATE In response to criticism from state associations and industry trade groups regarding maps drafted by the FCC, many states are preparing to plot their own course in drafting new broadband usage maps, reports NextGov.com.
Although the FCC says that approximately 21 million American households are without internet service, a report published by BroadbandNow says that the total number of households without broadband service is closer to 42 million. States hoping to receive federal grant money for broadband development are particularly interested in making sure that their underserved areas are recognized and eligible for funding.
Crystal Ivey, broadband director for Tennessee’s Department of Economic and Community Development, agrees that when millions of federal dollars are at stake, it is crucial to know which areas have broadband access and which don’t. “If at the end of the day, we are still not sure about the level of service in an area we will physically send someone out to drive around the area,” she said.
California Emerging Technology Fund Senior VP, Susan Walters, expressed similar concerns, noting, “In California, we still have over 400,000 households that do not have infrastructure over almost 1,000 miles of state. It’s really essential to know where there is coverage and where [it] isn’t.”
Jeff Sural, director of North Carolina’s Department of Information Technology, said that his state is being proactive in developing its own broadband usage maps. “We want to make sure North Carolina gets its fair share and we think the current approach does not address the granularity needed to adequately distribute these funds,” he said. Like Tennessee, North Carolina also conducts personal surveys, because, as Sural noted, “there is so much money on the table.”