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Broadband

First FCC broadband map to come in November, says Rosenworcel

Following 18 months of work and a data collection process that has had its share of critics, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) confirmed today that its first data collection window for the broadband serviceable location fabric has closed. The agency also said it is targeting November 2022 for a public release of a first draft of the new map.

"For the first time ever, we have collected extensive location-by-location data on precisely where broadband services are available, and now we are ready to get to work and start developing new and improved broadband maps," wrote Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel in a note on Friday afternoon.

In addition to announcing the planned time frame for the release, Rosenworcel also said a challenge process would open up on September 12 for state and local governments and broadband providers to submit bulk challenges to the initial fabric data.

In a public notice, the FCC set some parameters for that process, writing: "We remind governments, service providers, and other entities and organizations planning to submit challenges that the Fabric is intended to identify BSLs as defined by the Commission, which will not necessarily include all structures at a particular location or parcel." The FCC will host a webinar on September 7, at 2 p.m. ET, "to assist state, local, and Tribal governments, service providers, and other entities who intend to submit bulk challenges, or proposed corrections, to the location data in the Fabric," it said.

The FCC was mandated by the Broadband Data Act of 2020 to create new federal broadband maps. The new maps will inform how much funding each state gets from the $42.45 billion Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program. (Source: B Christopher/Alamy Stock Photo)
The FCC was mandated by the Broadband Data Act of 2020 to create new federal broadband maps. The new maps will inform how much funding each state gets from the $42.45 billion Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.
(Source: B Christopher/Alamy Stock Photo)

The general public will have a chance to weigh in on the maps too. "Once the maps are released, we will open a process for the public and other stakeholders to make challenges directly through the map interface," said Rosenworcel.

A second draft of the map is expected to be released in December, according to the FCC's public notice.

In Rosenworcel's note, entitled "Another Step Toward Better Broadband Maps," the chairwoman seemed to acknowledge tension about the mapping process and outcome but reiterated that the result will be an improvement on existing data.

"Looking ahead, there's one more important thing to note about the new maps. When the first draft is released, it will provide a far more accurate picture of broadband availability in the United States than our old maps ever did. That's worth celebrating. But our work will in no way be done. That's because these maps are iterative. They are designed to [be] updated, refined, and improved over time," wrote Rosenworcel.

"All of this will require persistent effort—from the agency, providers, and other stakeholders. The Commission is committed to doing this hard work and keeping the public informed of our efforts every step of the way," she said.

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Nicole Ferraro, editor, Light Reading, and host of "​​The Divide" podcast.

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