Find on PolicyMap
- Quality of Life
- Broadband Internet Access
- Availability & Competition
- Speed & Technology
Last September, we added broadband internet access data to PolicyMap. Indicators included availability of broadband, speed, technology, and number of providers, with indicators for wired and wireless access. It’s been a big hit.
To make things complicated, though, our source for this data, the National Broadband Map (NBM), lost its funding at the end of 2015, and is no longer releasing updates. Bummer.
But all is not lost! Much of the NBM data came from the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Form 477. Broadband providers are required to file data for Form 477 with the FCC twice a year, showing where they offer broadband internet access.
The old NBM data went a step further, and had 56 state grantees which collected data at a local level, working with smaller providers (as well as larger ones), doing their own testing, and talking to community leaders. That’s not done in the FCC data.
This new version of the data has all the same indicators as the old one (availability, speed, technology, number of providers), but is now divided between residential service and business service. Not every house can tap into the fiber optic line running through the neighborhood. If you’re interested in education or access to online services (like job listings or financial services), residential access might be more relevant. If you’re looking for data on economic development, maybe business access is important.
So is this new data better? Is it worse? Hard to make that call, but one thing’s for sure: It’s different. In some cases, it shows very different areas of coverage than the old map did. So if you’ve been using this data, and you notice that an area that heretofore had no access suddenly has access, or vice versa, it might be newly implemented service (the data is a year newer), but it also might just be that a different agency is collecting the data.
And what about wireless internet access? The FCC Form 477 covers that as well, but updated data hasn’t yet been released, so stay tuned; we’ll update that on PolicyMap as soon as we see it.
This data is displayed at the block level (meaning you might need to zoom in to see it), and is available to all PolicyMap users.