UniTel: U.S. Needs More Detailed Broadband Coverage Maps

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Maps depicting where broadband connectivity exists (and where it doesn’t) need more detail, with carriers reporting deployment in a standardized format, one member of NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, told Congress Tuesday.

UniTel Director of Customer and Industry Relations Beth Osler, testified on broadband mapping before the House Subcommittee on Contracting & Infrastructure. She discussed the challenges of providing high-speed broadband in rural areas, including the role broadband mapping plays in the distribution of critical resources needed to build broadband. 

Osler advocated for a better mapping process that ensures accuracy through validation and presented three essential components that are key to any mapping-related initiatives. “First, there should be a movement toward more granular maps through shapefiles in the near term with the objective of implementing location or address-based maps in the longer-run,” Osler told the lawmakers, a subgroup of the House Small Business Committee. “Taking this step would help to minimize, if not eliminate, the errors that arise from census block-based reporting,” she said. 

“Next, policy makers should develop standards for reporting by various platforms; this is particularly important in the case of spectrum-based offerings (such as fixed wireless services),” Osler added. The point is to, “more realistically capture what they can and cannot do in coverage, rather than once again just drawing large circles around antennas and calling that entire area ‘served,’” she said.

There must be a data validation and a challenge process regardless of what mapping solution is adopted, Osler stressed.

June 27, 2019

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