USTelecom: Reinventing broadband mapping is needed to close the digital divide

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USTelecom is leading the charge on a new, more precise, approach to broadband reporting and mapping. We have proposed to Congress and regulatory agencies a method to create a public-private partnership to map America's broadband infrastructure so policymakers and providers can better target scarce funding to communities with limited or no service options. Currently, the Federal Communications Commission collects some deployment data from broadband providers by census block. What is lacking in that methodology, however, is location data on the homes and businesses that are not accurately reflected in the census block data collected today. We need a detailed map of all the locations where people live and work (using a single methodology) so providers can efficiently plan and deploy network facilities that can service these locations. The map will provide critical insights for federal agencies and states so their broadband deployment policies are effectively targeting unserved locations. 

Our plan begins with a pilot program (funded by broadband providers) to test the concept in Missouri and Virginia, states with a mix of rural and urban communities where there is a range of fixed service providers using different technologies to provide connectivity. The pilot will include several steps: 

  • First, development of a database of all broadband serviceable locations in the country with input from broadband provider address databases and other public and private third-party sources, such as land records.
  • Next, once the gathered inputs are harmonized and duplicates removed, our technology and database experts will geocode the locations, converting them into geographic coordinates on a map. This geocoded list of locations would be ready for broadband providers to overlay their service coverage areas, regardless of technology and the speeds offered in those locations.

[Jonathan Spalter is the president and CEO of USTelecom]

USTelecom: Reinventing broadband mapping is needed to close the digital divide