BROADBAND BREAKFAST INSIGHT: This OpEd last week highlights the importance of broadband data and mapping, the variety of efforts underway to address inadequacies in our informational base, plus the broadband coordination currently going on in the federal government, and among many of the state governments. Of particular note, later in the articles, is the way it highlights how Tennessee, Indiana and Georgia have followed Wisconsin’s lead by creating “broadband-ready community” certification program.
Broadband infrastructure should be a national priority for policymakers, by Anne Stauffer and Kathryn de Wit of The Pew Charitable Trusts in The Hill:
Policymakers, community leaders and consumers have raised concerns about the accuracy of the map and its underlying data. If internet service providers (ISPs) report just one home or building in a census block as connected, the map shows the entire block as served even if many parts don’t have access. This can have serious consequences, including jeopardizing a community’s eligibility for federal funding. What’s more, the data are self-reported and don’t shed light on actual speed experienced by users.
That’s why building physical structures for broadband must begin with a more precise understanding of where broadband is and is not. The FCC continues to seek input on improving its data collection and the U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Agency (NTIA) is partnering with states to identify additional sources of data that will enhance the map’s usability for policymakers.
In addition to increased funding and developing a more accurate broadband map, the federal government is helping states expand connectivity by promoting coordination and expanding grant eligibility. Last year, the fiscal year 2018 omnibus spending bill included a provision requiring states that receive federal-aid highway funds to identify a broadband utility coordinator.
This individual will establish and manage broadband infrastructure right-of-way efforts, with specific focus on activities that eliminate the need to dig up the road more than once. In addition, the BUILD Transportation grant program, which funds state, local and tribal transportation investment, will support the deployment of broadband as part of projects eligible for funding in 2019.
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