Somewhat surprisingly, there has not been an up-to-date broadband map for the United States in quite some time. Thankfully, the FCC has solved that problem with their recent unveiling of a new national broadband map.
While this map may be interesting for anyone living in the U.S., it is of particular interest to internet service providers. An accurate map for ISPs means that they will be able to more efficiently decide where to build infrastructure. The map will help them avoid overbuilding in areas where sufficient infrastructure may already exist.
The concept of a broadband map first came into existence when The National Telecommunications & Information Administration launched the initiative in 2010. The FCC took over the map in 2016 and finally released the updated version this past month.
The latest version of the map utilizes data from December of 2016 and offers a slew of new interactive features. These features include:
- Fixed deployment data
- Deployment summaries for different geological types
- Broadband availability and provider counts
- Provider summaries
- Deployment comparisons for different geological areas
- A data downloads portal
- Satellite imagery map overlays
- Graphs that show an area’s population and the different broadband speeds that they have access to.
While this map is a big step forward, it is not perfect, as many are quick to point out. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel expressed concerns, saying that she had found numerous mistakes when she was playing around with it. That’s why she’s suggesting crowdfunding the map in order to get the most accurate info.
Yes, the map has a long way to go, but for ISP’s this is an incredible resource. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai spoke about the map, remarking about how great a tool it is for policymakers and Americans interested in the topic. “It is a first step, but a pretty darn good first step,” he said.