States Look to Improve Upon Incomplete FCC Broadband Data

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Limited federal data on broadband coverage has presented a hurdle for states as they try to do their part in erasing the digital divide in local communities. Despite the common observation that Form 477 data from the Federal Communications Commission doesn’t cut it, states have different approaches and different timelines when it comes to their cartographical solutions.  

Wisconsin: The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin has been doing broadband mapping in some form since at least 2013, the year that the state’s Broadband Expansion Grant Program came into being. At first, the mapping initiative was simply about supporting that program. The mapping still serves this function today. For Wisconsin, the “real push” to produce more accurate information than the Form 477 data began in late 2018. The state has diligently built relationships with Internet service providers to set up the next step of charting more granular broadband coverage patterns. The challenge now is coming up with data collection standards that won’t put too much of a burden on providers, who don’t want to jump through an excess of hoops. 

North Carolina: In Feb, North Carolina announced the release of its Broadband Indices, which allows users to view broadband availability and adoption in the state at the county and census tract level.

West Virginia: Kelly Workman, administrative director for the West Virginia Development Office, said the state has been using broadband speed tests since 2014 in an attempt to validate FCC mapping. The speed testing ended up confirming what the state suspected: Areas defined as completely served by the FCC are, in actuality, not completely served. West Virginia has continued to build upon its mapping effort. Workman said the team maps out the work of any state- or federally funded project. 

States Look to Improve Upon Incomplete FCC Broadband Data