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Broadband Mapping & Data

Broadband Data From Providers Needs to be Checked With Data From Users, Say Panelists at Mapping Event



Photo of Lynn Follansbee of US Telecom, Steve Rosenberg of the FCC, and Paula Boyd of Microsoft by Drew Clark

ALEXANDRIA, Virginia, October 30, 2019 – The more one delves into the details of broadband mapping, the more complicated it becomes to understand issues of network topology, geographic information systems and consumer “crowdsourcing.”

That was the conclusion of a panel discussing the topic at a Broadband Communities economic development conference here. Representatives of broadband providers (US Telecom) and broadband users (Microsoft) participated, together with three separate government entities.

Lynn Follansbee, vice president of US Telecom, discussed the evolution of the trade association’s interest in broadband mapping — and their “broadband fabric” project. But her perspective, on behalf of providers, was counterposed by Microsoft’s increasing engagement on the subject.

“We are not a broadband carrier, but as big data has emerged, that is an area where we have a fair amount of expertise,” said Paula Boyd, senior director of regulatory affairs for software giant, which is increasingly also a cloud company. She said Microsoft approached broadband data with a desire be a check against provider-supplied data.

Boyd said that Microsoft’s checks — supplemented by machine learning — have shown just how flawed FCC data can be. Comparing Microsoft user data in 20 markets (supplemented by the web site Broadband Now), Microsoft found broadband usage at between zero and eight percent when the FCC found such usage at between 90 and 100 percent.

Rounding out the panel were officials from the Federal Communications Commission, the Commerce Department and a state broadband entity.

The government officials discussed what each of them have been doing to improve the substance behind and analysis of broadband maps, a subject that has been increasingly discussed over the past seven months.

[See Broadband Breakfast articles on broadband data and mapping. See an explanatory article on the subject be this author published in Broadband Communities, including a discussion of the Broadband SPARC, for Broadband “Speeds, Prices, Availability, Reliability and Competition.”]

Perhaps the biggest task at hand falls to the FCC. Steve Rosenberg, chief data and analytics officer for the agency, described the steps that the agency is taking to complete the Digital Opportunity Data Collection, a new effort to completely revamp the way the FCC collects broadband data from providers.

Rosenberg articulated the enormity of the task before the FCC. He said that the agency was in the midst of making crucial decisions about the DODC, including ways that the agency plans to implement “crowdsourcing” data without allowing for new inaccuracies.

“We want people to tell us where the data is incorrect,” said Rosenberg. At the same time, he said the agency “has certainly had experiences where people submitted data in bulk that was not what they said it was.”

Rosenberg also highlighted intrinsic complexities that arise from the FCC’s efforts to incorporate data about actual broadband speeds.

Even as the FCC irons out the new data collection system that will ultimately replace the legacy Form 477, the Commerce Department’s National Telecommunications and Information Agency is also in the midst of its own broadband mapping revamp. Dubbed the National Broadband Availability Map and released last month, the still-private map was built in collaboration with eight states, said Tim Moyer, program manager at NTIA.

Moyer called the NTIA’s tool “more than a map,” but a way for the federal government to continue interacting with a variety of state broadband entities. The eight states that participated in the $7.5 million NTIA map are California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Utah, Tennessee and West Virginia.

Speaking for state broadband entities was Jean Plymale, broadband project manager at Virginia’s Center for Innovative Technology. Plymale, who said she welcomed the increased activity on broadband mapping. But she was also critical of inaccuracies in data submitted by providers.

She said local knowledge was crucial to supplement errors in broadband data, and particularly praised the existence of open source tools, like Robert Balance’s Internet as Infrastructure, which attempt to reconcile different broadband data sets.

Follansbee, of US Telecom, also addressed some aspect of the trade group’s evolution toward a more detailed approach toward broadband data.

Although providers have supplied information at a Census block level since the unveiling of the National Broadband Map in 2011, the group’s providers began to recognize that members of Congress, the public and the FCC were demanding more granular data — perhaps even more granular than address-level data.

“Rather than fighting it, we decided to figure out a solution for this,” she said. “Instead of kicking the can down the road,” US Telecom decided to produce a pilot map of all the “broadband serviceable locations” and to which any provider could reference as they provide data to the FCC.

The pilot program mapped out the broadband availability of certain providers in Virginia and Missouri. Documentation about the pilot undertaken with CostQuest has has been submitted to the FCC as part of its broadband mapping proceeding.

Breakfast Media LLC CEO Drew Clark has led the Broadband Breakfast community since 2008. An early proponent of better broadband, better lives, he initially founded the Broadband Census crowdsourcing campaign for broadband data. As Editor and Publisher, Clark presides over the leading media company advocating for higher-capacity internet everywhere through topical, timely and intelligent coverage. Clark also served as head of the Partnership for a Connected Illinois, a state broadband initiative.

Broadband Mapping & Data

FCC Added Just Over 1 Million Net New Locations in Broadband Map Fabric Slated For Spring Release: Chairwoman

Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said the second version of map fabric ‘largely completed.’



WASHINGTON, March 23, 2023 – The head of the Federal Communications Commission said Thursday that the commission added just over one million net new broadband serviceable locations after processing challenges and improving data models in its second round of data collection that ended March 1.

In a mapping update blog post, chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel noted that the net additions to the map – where fixed broadband could be installed – came after it added 2.96 million new locations and removed 1.92 million locations from the first version of the fabric released in November.

The chairwoman also said the second version of the fabric, which underpins the broadband map, is “largely completed” and is slated for a release later this spring. The map will be used by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration to spread among the states by June 30 the $42.5 billion from its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program.

“In the past four months, our mapping team has processed challenges to availability data for over 4 million locations,” Rosenworcel said in the post. “In other words, on average, we are addressing availability challenges to tens of thousands of locations every single day. Every two weeks, our public map is updated to reflect all availability challenges that have been resolved. In other words, the system is working.”

The chairwoman noted that the one-million-location difference suggests that the net adjustment from the last version of less than one percent in the number of serviceable locations “says that, on balance, the November pre-production draft of the National Broadband Map painted a helpful picture of where high-speed Internet service could be available.”

Previously, the chairwoman said challenges that sought corrections to the data corresponded to less than one percent of the total number of locations identified.

Rosenworcel also noted Thursday that important corrections and additions to the data were made, including “data refreshes to more sophisticated tools” that helped remove structures like garages and sheds. The most significant additions were in Alaska, U.S. territories and tribal lands, she said.

The challenge process led to nearly 122,000 new location additions, she noted, but also added that the majority of location adds were due to the updates and dataset model refinements by the agency’s contractor CostQuest.

“While over time we expect future versions of the Fabric to require fewer refinements,” Rosenworcel added, “these ongoing efforts to improve the Fabric outside of the challenge process will continue and will remain an important tool for the improvement of the National Broadband Map.”

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Broadband Mapping & Data

Association Says FCC Not Budging on Identifying Anchor Institutions on Broadband Map

SHLB said FCC officials recommended a workaround that risked penalties.



Photo of John Windhausen, executive director of SHLB

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2023 – An association representing anchor institutions said in a letter Wednesday that officials from the Federal Communications Commission conveyed that they will not be changing the methodology that excludes schools and libraries from the broadband map and instead recommended a “work around” that the group said could risk penalties.

The Schools, Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition has repeatedly told the FCC that its broadband map incorrectly leaves out anchor institutions because they are categorized as non-broadband serviceable locations by virtue of the fact that they are treated as businesses that purchase commercial service rather than subscribers to “mass-market broadband internet access service,” which is what the FCC maps. SHLB has said this means institutions may not be able to get enhanced connectivity.

While SHLB has said that many small and rural libraries and other institutions subscribe to mass market service, it said in meeting notes from a Monday rendezvous with officials that the commission is “locked into” their current methodology and even recommended a “work-around” that the association said risked penalties.

According to SHLB, officials said the institutions could challenge their status on the map by representing that “they are not anchor institutions in order to change their designation.

“This recommendation is not feasible,” SHLB said. “Anchor institutions are not about to risk penalties by mis-representing themselves in such a way.”

The map, which has been extensively challenged by local governments and is updated every six months, is relied on to provide the most accurate picture of connectivity in the country and to assist federal agencies in divvying out public money. In fact, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration will use the map to determine how much each state will get from tis $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program by June 30.

SHLB said it commissioned a study that found the “vast majority” of 200 libraries on the FCC map were “grayed out” as not broadband serviceable locations.

“If states base their funding decisions on the Map, they will not be able to provide funding to ensure that anchor institutions receive gigabit level service as called for” in the BEAD program, SHLB said in the letter.

The association also said that information presented to it by the FCC during the meeting suggests the map “significantly overstates the areas that are served.”

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Broadband Mapping & Data

Alex Kerai: The Rise of Digital Nomads Highlights Fast Broadband Needs

The top cities for remote work all have something in common: fast internet speed and free connection spots.



The author of this Expert Opinion is Alex Kerai, Consumer Trends Reporter for

Companies across the United States are offering remote work, providing the opportunity for employees to become digital nomads and travel the globe while working. But where should these ‘digital nomads’ go?

The team at came up with a list of the 10 best cities for digital nomads and found that the key to living life as a digital nomad is fast internet speed. In fact, all but one of the top 10 cities for digital nomads have average internet speeds of over 100 Megabits per second (Mbps).

Why do digital nomads need fast internet?

Digital nomads have been around for decades, but they gained in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic when it was possible to work from anywhere in the world.

But you can’t just pack your bags and set off on your journey. The most important things digital nomads need are a laptop, a cell phone and a strong internet connection. While it can be easy to find the first two things, a strong internet connection is dependent on where you move.

However, it can be hard to find a strong enough connection for Zoom calls and Google Docs while you’re in the middle of nowhere. So the big thing digital nomads need to consider before embarking on the trek of a lifetime is finding a place with a strong connection.

The top cities all have one thing in common

At, we decided to find the best U.S. cities for digital nomads. Forty percent of the weighted score was given to average download speed and the number of free WiFi hotspots. Internet connectivity was key to ranking the best cities.

And what did we find? All of the top cities have fast internet speed and free connection spots.

  1. Atlanta, GA: 114.1 Mbps average speed and 138 free WiFi hotspots
  2. Portland, OR: 106.2 Mbps average speed and 153 free WiFi hotspots
  3. Austin, TX: 104.2 Mbps average speed and 134 free WiFi hotspots
  4. Seattle, WA: 111 Mbps average speed and 164 free WiFi hotspots
  5. Phoenix, AZ: 96.2 Mbps average speed and 114 free WiFi hotspots
  6. Houston, TX: 115.7 Mbps average speed and 105 free WiFi hotspots
  7. Dallas, TX: 117.1 Mbps average speed and 96 free WiFi hotspots
  8. Chicago, IL: 104.1 Mbps average speed and 143 free WiFi hotspots
  9. Las Vegas, NV: 116.2 Mbps average speed and 65 free WiFi hotspots
  10. San Francisco, CA: 124.2 Mbps average speed and 119 free WiFi hotspots

These metro areas were determined to have the fastest speeds thanks to Federal Communications Commission data compiled by, which discovered that the average internet speed is 89.3 Mbps and the fastest metro is separated from the slowest metro by over 95 Mbps!

So, where you decide to live can have a huge impact on how you work. If you live in Myrtle Beach, North Carolina (number 98 on our list), you might have gorgeous weather and views, but its average internet speeds are over 65 Mbps slower than metros in our top 15.

Overall, digital nomads need to have fast internet speed and numerous provider options in their metro area. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have some WiFi spots available when you want to work outside of the house.

Becoming a digital nomad

Digital nomads have the freedom to travel and work from anywhere. With the increasing prevalence of remote work plus the ubiquity of mobile, wireless technology, anyone is able to become a digital nomad and move somewhere new. And honestly, it’s pretty awesome having the ability to travel the world without worrying about commuting to an office.

But to be a digital nomad, you need to have internet access and broadband equity is key. Without it, there’s no way you can stay connected to your work while living away from the office. Some places have better internet access than others, but overall US metros share strong internet connection and lots of WiFi hotspots.

So what are you waiting for? Pick a city from our list and start your life as a digital nomad today!

Alex Kerai is the Consumer Trends Reporter for where his writing and research help users tackle what lies ahead. He has spent his career writing for small businesses, entertainment companies, nonprofits, and higher education institutions, helping them align their mission and attract consumers. This piece is exclusive to BroadbandBreakfast, but the research was originally published by on February 7, 2023.

Broadband Breakfast accepts commentary from informed observers of the broadband scene. Please send pieces to The views reflected in Expert Opinion pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Broadband Breakfast and Breakfast Media LLC.

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