How States Use Broadband Surveys to Fight for Better Funding

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Three states have recently kickstarted their own broadband surveys — Washington, North Carolina and Alabama.

Washington: Their broadband survey, which launched recently, has been completed by over 9,000 respondents. Washington State Broadband Office director Russ Elliott believes the broadband survey can allow Washington to challenge the Federal Communications Commission if it declares an area served when it really isn’t. When Elliot was broadband manager in Wyoming, he saw what granular data can do: Wyoming was able to successfully challenge the FCC’s data and help a carrier win USDA money to bring high-speed Internet service to Sweetwater County. 

North Carolina: The broadband mapping effort in North Carolina is still going strong. In contrast to Washington, which is primarily interested in learning about gaps in broadband service, North Carolina wants to know about household connectivity levels, whether they’re high or low, throughout its territory. Additionally, North Carolina plans to use the survey data as a type of audit.

Alabama: Kenneth Boswell, director of the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs, wrote in an email that federal broadband speed data is not granular enough to meet Alabama’s needs. The importance of accurate data has become especially critical in light of COVID-19. Alabama’s survey will run indefinitely and provide baseline numbers for the state’s different broadband efforts, including the Broadband Alabama program and Alabama Broadband Accessibility Fund. 

How States Use Broadband Surveys to Fight for Better Funding