March 21, 2019
First of its kind Broadband Mapping Initiative reimagining how to better map broadband deployment nationwide and help close the digital divide
Enable policymakers and industry to more efficiently connect all Americans by directing resources to communities truly unserved by broadband
Pilot program launching in Virginia and Missouri
Washington – Representing a major evolution in the way broadband service is mapped in the United States, today USTelecom and a diverse consortium of broadband companies and associations announced the creation of a new initiative to more accurately map broadband deployment nationwide and help close the digital divide.
Universal access to broadband is essential to the country’s economic future, but the federal government’s efforts to map the availability of broadband still requires additional precision, particularly in the less densely populated rural areas of the country.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) collects deployment data from broadband providers by census block, but lacks comprehensive location data on all places that need broadband in the country, from homes to businesses to farms. This issue is particularly acute in rural areas where census blocks are larger than urban and suburban blocks. Broadband availability in one part of a census block does not necessarily mean, and often does not mean, consumers have connectivity in all parts of the census block.
Jonathan Spalter, President and CEO, USTelecom said: “Broadband providers have made tremendous investments in the deployment, growth and innovation of our digital economy, but it will take a bold commitment and new approach to broadband mapping to bring the power and promise of broadband to every home and business in our country. With this new Broadband Mapping Initiative, USTelecom is leading the charge to definitively map internet service in America and complete the job of connecting the country through broadband – the 21st century’s indispensable resource.”
While broadband providers typically can tell a potential customer whether or not they serve their address, providers face challenges when the street address does not accurately depict the actual physical location of the home or business. No comprehensive map of America’s broadband serviceable locations exists because there is no single, comprehensive data source of U.S. locations/structures yet available. The Broadband Mapping Initiative seeks to change that.
Eric Cramer, President & CEO, Wilkes Communications / RiverStreet Networks, a North Carolina-based rural provider: “If we are serious about permanently closing the digital divide and extending more broadband to the hardest to reach rural communities, we need better data and a comprehensive map to direct funding to where it can do the most good.”
Claude Aiken, President and CEO, Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA), said: “Accurate broadband mapping helps consumers and policymakers know where broadband services truly are. It fosters competition, boosts innovation, and focuses government support to areas where it is necessary. The Broadband Mapping Initiative will create a new, hyper-accurate roadmap, enabling policymakers and providers to drive broadband where it really needs to go. The initiative will also remove roadblocks that only grow the digital divide, especially in rural and under-served communities. WISPA is pleased to be a part of this pilot program, which will help all Americans understand their Internet options, no matter where they are.”
Genny Morelli, President, ITTA: “Current broadband maps are not complete or accurate and don’t tell the full story of who has – and who doesn’t have – access to modern, reliable internet service. Getting the maps right will arm members of Congress and the Administration with the information they need to allocate federal dollars to the communities across America that lack access to broadband that is essential to fully participate in today’s digital economy.”
The USTelecom-led Broadband Mapping Initiative will begin with a pilot program in Virginia and Missouri to demonstrate how new tools, data sources, and approaches to mapping can substantially improve our knowledge of where broadband is available, and more importantly, where it is not. The pilot will provide valuable input for the FCC’s efforts to improve how the agency measures broadband availability, and serve as a blueprint for the government’s mapping process going forward. It will also provide important insights for the Administration’s American Broadband Initiative, which is also focused on improving broadband mapping.
The pilot will find and aggregate all geolocations in Missouri and Virginia, and create a ‘Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric’ that will then be used as a basis for carrier reporting, helping to identify locations with and without access to broadband. The pilot will:
- Harness the power of new digital resources, mapping technologies and crowdsourcing platforms combined with existing provider service availability information;
- Improve understanding of unserved/served areas, resulting in better cost estimates, deployment time, and progress;
- Enable more effective targeting of funds in current and future government programs;
- Speed rural America’s access to broadband’s benefits including economic and commerce, education and healthcare.
The Broadband Mapping Initiative includes providers and organizations of different sizes, locations and technology types. Among the participants: AT&T, CenturyLink, Consolidated, Frontier, ITTA – The Voice of America’s Broadband Providers, Wilkes Communications / RiverStreet Networks, TDS, USTelecom – The Broadband Association, Verizon, Windstream, and the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA).
More information on the USTelecom Broadband Mapping Initiative is available HERE.
USTelecom is the national trade association representing telecommunications providers, innovators, suppliers, and manufacturers committed to connecting the world through the power of broadband. Visit us at www.ustelecom.org.
WISPA is a membership-driven trade association that promotes the development, advancement and unity of the fixed wireless Internet service provider industry. WISPA has over 800 members that support WISPA’s advocacy, education and other collaborative industry initiatives. For more information, visit www.wispa.org.
ITTA represents wireline broadband service providers that operate in predominantly rural areas across the United States. ITTA’s mission is to advance its members’ interests by promoting public policies that encourage communications sector investment and create opportunities for ITTA members’ continued business success.