One of the biggest hurdles to overcome in bringing better broadband to more Americans is having an accurate picture of where broadband is and isn't available. Current broadband maps that most states are relying on for grant programs are simply not good enough. They don't provide nearly enough granularity for one thing. They are also inaccurate because they solely rely on providers ADVERTISED download speeds, which aren't always achievable in real-world conditions. They also do not take any other important factors into account such as upload speeds and reliability.
The job of fixing the maps has been placed in the hands of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). This step is vital because funds authorized under the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program (BEAD), part of the federal infrastructure bill, can't spent until the maps are updated. So the $42 million that BEAD will allocate to reaching unserved Americans is in limbo until the maps are resolved.
In response to a congressional letter sent to her office in December, FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said there is no clear timeline for the updated maps. One source of the delay is the fact that the FCC chose a vendor to develp the "Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric" on which the maps will be based, but that selection was contested by another vendor. So until that appeal is concluded the fabric is on hold.
As the "Milestones" graphic above shows, a lot needs to happen before the new maps are ready. While Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told Congress last week that the maps should be on their way "this summer", that may be overly optimistic.
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Presented by the Community Broadband Action Network and curated by Curtis Dean.