Last month, the FCC released our pre-production draft of its new broadband maps. For the first time ever, the maps reflect broadband availability at the physical location level. In fact, prior FCC maps only provided this information at the census-block level. That means these new maps provide the best picture available to date of where broadband is and is not available across the country, and the maps will only get better over time as the FCC gets input from stakeholders across the country. As I said last month, this is a beginning, not an endpoint for the new era of broadband maps. But just because we know they’re better doesn’t mean they’re perfect. And the long-term success of this effort depends on consumers and other stakeholders getting involved in the process.
This isn’t just good policy, it’s the law. The Broadband DATA Act requires the FCC to use a challenge process to continually update the map to make it more accurately reflect the reality consumers face. The Act even instructs us to collect this availability information every 6 months, incorporating previous challenges along the way, meaning that with each iteration we’re getting closer and closer to a more accurate picture of where broadband is and where it is not. The FCC is committed to this continually evolving process both in the near term and for the long haul.
So far, we have received thousands of challenges from consumers nationwide—and we know more are on the way. This feedback will help make the maps more accurate. And more accurate maps will help us all work together to close the digital divide. Here are the most important things to know about how to participate in improving the FCC’s maps.
Check your location on the map and let us know if the reported data is correct.
You can check your location by searching for your address on the National Broadband Map at BroadbandMap.gov.
Entering an address will take you to that point on the map and information about the location will appear on the right (or below the map when using a mobile device). This information includes the address, whether the physical location is business or residential (or both), and the number of separate households or other broadband-serviceable “units” associated with that location. If you believe that any of the information about the location is incorrect, you can request a correction by filling out the form that appears when you click on the “Location Challenge” link to the right of the address.
You will also see a list of the internet service providers who have reported that they can make service available at your location. If any of that information is incorrect, use the “Availability Challenge” link and complete the form that appears.
If your location is missing altogether, you can click on the place on the map where your location should be and a “Challenge Location” button will appear, allowing you to request that we add your location.
Both location and availability challenges will be submitted and reviewed by the FCC. The map will reflect that a challenge has been filed and, once a decision on the challenge has been made, any changes will be reflected in a future update to the map. For more information on how to challenge broadband availability at your location or correct information about how your location is presented on the map, please visit: www.fcc.gov/BroadbandData/consumers
States, Tribal, and local governments, and other stakeholders can also provide input on a larger scale.
States, local, and Tribal governments, and other stakeholders have boots-on-the-ground knowledge that can make our maps better. And to empower their participation, our system is designed to accept challenges to availability data for multiple locations in a single submission (or “bulk” challenges). In addition, we update our location data included in the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric ahead of each twice-a-year availability data collection, based in part on feedback we receive from stakeholders in the form of bulk Fabric challenges.
More detailed instructions on how to participate in the bulk challenge processes can be found on our website: https://help.bdc.fcc.gov/hc/en-us/categories/8772052687003-Challenge-Processes
What happens after a challenge is filed?
The FCC’s rules and the Broadband DATA Act set forth a challenge process that is ongoing, and the FCC will accept challenges to broadband availability data on a rolling basis. The rules and the law require challenges to be shared with providers and require those providers to respond before the FCC can update the maps to reflect the outcome. As the rules and the law outline in more detail, this process takes time.
While we will take a close look at any availability challenges filed at any time, because of the time frames for availability challenges set forth under the rules and the law, you will have the best opportunity for your availability challenge to be resolved ahead of NTIA’s planned funding time frame if you file it by January 13.
The first draft of anything is usually full of red marks and changes. We expect the same of our broadband mapping project. Our goal is to create a robust, reliable, and continually evolving dataset of where high-speed internet is and where it is not. It will serve as a strong foundation that Federal agencies, states, Tribes, researchers, and other stakeholders can all build upon to address other issues that intersect with broadband availability. We appreciate the feedback we have received so far. Together, working in partnership, we will continue to improve our maps and make them a useful tool that will help get broadband to all.