Online Tool Used To Help With Broadband Coverage Accuracy

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Rural state and local officials nationwide run into issues with coverage maps that wireless providers submit to the FCC, including overreporting claims. Now, North Carolina is seeking a portion of the $20 billion the Commission committed to rural broadband, and the $600 million available via the USDA ReConnect program, reported StateScoop. However, per the FCC, 95 percent of North Carolina’s population is served by at least three broadband providers, making it difficult for the state to apply for funds based on current coverage maps.

Instead, North Carolina officials are asking residents to self-report internet speeds. As part of the process, the state is streamlining its online tool by working with Measurement Lab, or M-Lab according to Jeff Sural, director of the North Carolina Department of Technology’s broadband infrastructure office. The results of the self-reporting are intended to represent the state’s broadband coverage maps more accurately. 

“So far, one thing we have gleaned from our crowdsourcing tool is that there are a number of locations in areas where the FCC says there is [download coverage of 25 megabits per second and an upload rate of 3 Mbps] that are not getting those speeds,” Sural told StateScoop.

Aware of the challenges of accuracy with coverage maps, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in August the Commission would take a more granular approach to collect and map coverage data, Inside Towers reported. After completion of the project with M-Lab, Sural can challenge the maps if it can prove the data is incorrect. “What we’d like to do is find out more about pricing and really focus on going after and identifying the unserved areas so we can report that to the FCC to make sure that we’re getting our fair share of funding to all of those areas,” he added.  

September 17, 2019

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