By Jonathan Charnitski and Rahul Gaitonde
WASHINGTON March 23, 2011 - Broadband voice company, Bandwidth.com, unveiled Monday a nationwide map that displays availability and pricing data for business broadband connections, building on information from the National Telecommunications Information Administration's national broadband map.
The map is available at Broadband.com.
The Broadband.com map provides information directed at businesses rather than consumers. Consequently, the map only offers data on high-speed networks, such as T1 and Gigabit Ethernet, though the company is currently working on collecting data on cable and 4G connections. In contrast, the NTIA broadband map provides data only on the broadband networks available in a specific area.
Fifteen major internet service providers (ISPs), the national broadband map and Ookla's netindex.com - which compiles national and global connection data - provided the data from which Broadband.com built its map.
The map does not currently include data for residential connections, but Bandwidth.com Vice President of Internet Services, Joe Merrill, said Tuesday that the company plans to include residential information, including cable and 4G, sometime in the coming months.
Merrill also said that the company has signed an agreement with Sprint to add its high speed mobile network information to the map and anticipates working with Verizon and AT&T to obtain their network footprint information.
“We want to do for broadband what Expedia did for hotels and airline tickets,” Merrill said. “There should be a way to give consumers leverage with the carriers, otherwise they're at the carriers' mercy; we want to open up the black box of telecom.”
Researchers in the field have criticized the national broadband map for not including pricing data. Anne Neville, Director at the National Broadband Mapping Program has said
Broadband.com obtains their pricing data directly from the ISPs and will update their map regularly as they obtain new pricing and speed data. The NTIA however has said that the national map will only be updated twice annually.
The NTIA provides users with the ability to download all of the 25 million pieces of data that comprise the map to facilitate the creation of new applications such as the Broadband.com map. The NTIA also includes information about how to access and use the Application Programming Interface (API), which is the standard set of programming instructions used to interact with the data on the broadband map website.
Broadband.com is one of the first attempts to commercialize the data gathered by the NTIA.