USTelecom, Partners Say Broadband Mapping Concept Works

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UPDATE USTelecom delivered to the FCC results from its Broadband Data Mapping Initiative. The premise involved updating the data the Commission uses to more accurately map what localities are covered and reveal those that are not. The association says a four-month pilot proves the concept works, and can be implemented quickly and efficiently nationwide, with the agency’s help.

The industry-led project includes several companies and associations. They include: ITTA, The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers, the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association, AT&T, CenturyLink, Frontier, TDS, Verizon, and Windstream. Key findings from pilot testing their concept in Virginia and Missouri include:

  • The pilot program was a success. Using state-of-the-art technology and datasets, it is now possible to precisely identify and geocode every structure in a geographic area that can receive broadband.
  •  Pinpointing service availability. The pilot revealed in just the two states, 38 percent of homes and businesses counted as “served” under current reporting are not receiving service from participating providers. While not every broadband provider participated in this pilot—that still leaves the potential for a substantial misrepresentation of service availability.
  • Inaccurate census block counts. Forty-eight percent of the location counts in rural Missouri and Virginia census blocks are wrong, often significantly wrong.    
  • Location, location, location. The presumed geocoded location for 61 percent of rural homes and businesses in Missouri and Virginia were off by more than 25 feet and 25 percent were off by more than 328 feet (more than the size of a football field).
  • Timely and cost effective. A national dataset of all broadband serviceable locations is achievable in 12-15 months at a cost between $8.5-$11 million in upfront costs and $3-4 million in annual updates.
  • Enhanced reporting. Regardless of format (shapefile, propagation map, address, etc.) the quality and validity of reporting is driven by the quality of the underlying data on which the report is overlaid.

USTelecom President/CEO Jonathan Spalter called the findings a game-changer for rural Americans. “In just four months, our broadband mapping initiative has completely flipped the national mapping conversation and proven we can now do better than the inaccurate and outdated maps that have prevented homes and businesses in rural areas from getting reliable service. We are ready to hand it off to our government partners to ensure agencies, policymakers and providers are empowered with good data to connect more communities to the power and promise of broadband, while ensuring every dollar of federal broadband support finally can now be accurately targeted and effectively deployed where it needs to go most urgently and quickly.”

August 22, 2019   

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