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Broadband Mapping & Data

Poor Broadband Maps and Lack of a Consolidated Voice Hinder Advocacy for Better Rural Internet



Photo of Rep. Abigail Spanberger in November 2018 by Ezra Deutsch-Feldman used with permission

While there are helpful strategies to deploy rural broadband on the local level, significant barriers persist, said panelists at a local meeting on broadband in Disputana, Virginia, hosted by local members of Congress Reps. Donald McEachin and Abigail Spanberger, and livestreamed on Thursday afternoon.

Evan Feinman, of Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam’s administration, said that there are ways to “sidestep” inaccurate broadband maps through direct communication with the public and broadband providers.

Unfortunately, with broadband maps, if there is one area of service in a census block, then the whole block is counted, said Feinman. He questioned the logic for census blocks being “rounded up” as “served” instead of “rounded down” as “unserved.”

Federal Communications Commissioner Geoffrey Starks, also in attendance, agreed with Feinman. Starks said he believes in the “challenge process” because the maps are significantly unreliable.

Virginia Cable TV Association President Ray LaMura said that there needed to be “targeted policy changes” to aid in broadband deployment to unserved areas, like “reduc[ing] other buildout costs and delays” and “creat[ing] federal grant subsidy programs,” said LaMura.

LaMura also suggested using the same maps across the board and focusing funding on unserved areas.

“The average American family spends $2,700 dollars on their internet, cable, and on their phone,” and families need affordable broadband, said Starks.

Starks also expressed his concern for the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund approved by the FCC on January 30, 2020. He said he was worried that ambiguities surrounding language regarding areas currently receiving state subsidies would disturb the federal/state relationship. This “penalizes the states,” said Starks.

As additional barriers to broadband deployment, LaMura mentioned the increased costs for utility poles.

Rep. Spanberger called for communities fighting for broadband to unite.

There is not a “consolidated voice,” and distance in the rural communities is a barrier to advocacy, said Spanberger.

Spanberger suggested utilizing the “pockets for advocacy” in schools and groups to raise awareness. The cost of bridging the digital divide will become exponentially greater if there isn’t prompt action, warned Spanberger.

Adrienne Patton was a Reporter for Broadband Breakfast. She studied English rhetoric and writing at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. She grew up in a household of journalists in South Florida. Her father, the late Robes Patton, was a sports writer for the Sun-Sentinel who covered the Miami Heat, and is for whom the press lounge in the American Airlines Arena is named.

Broadband Mapping & Data

South Carolina’s Innovative Broadband Maps Verifies ISPs’ Internet Speeds

South Carolina performs mapping audits to hold ISPs accountable for coverage claims.



Photo of Jim Strizinger

WASHINGTON, May 21, 2023 – South Carolina’s innovative state broadband map can accurately identify areas of over-reporting by internet service providers, the director of the state’s broadband office said in a Friday Ask Me Anything! session in the broadband community.

South Carolina processes the same data as does the Federal Communications Commission as it creates its broadband map. However, it also performs audits on the ISPs to ensure they are submitting accurate data. Hence, the state can determine errors in reporting data based on where the ISP’s networks had been deployed previously and where state investments have gone, said Jim Stritzinger, director of the state’s broadband office.

Providers are required to file amended returns with the FCC in the event that South Carolina’s state broadband office flags errors in their reporting information. Errors include misreporting of technology types.

If the reporting errors are not corrected, the state will report the defaulting ISP to the FCC, said Stritzinger, a software engineer with a passion for mapping broadband in the Palmetto state.

A big flaw of the FCC’s maps is that ISPs were able to report advertised speeds, which Stritzinger said were useless.

To enhance the accuracy and reliability of the maps, Stritzinger partnered with broadband data collection company Ookla, and integrated speed test data directly into the mapping system. More than 12 million Ookla speed tests have now been incorporated into the map, with some census blocks containing over 15,000 tests.

In 2021, South Carolina made the decision to no longer accept Digital Subscriber Lines as reliable service anywhere in the state. Doing so opened large regions of the state to investments, said Stritzinger, and will reduce the number of underserved locations.

The state’s next iteration of its map is set to come out sometime before June 30, and will be the state’s first address-level broadband map.

Stritzinger estimated that investments from the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment program will be deployed in 2025. In the meantime, the state will continue working to deploy the American Rescue Plan Act dollars, which allocated $25 billion in several broadband projects, $8 billion of which will go to states and local governments directly.

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Broadband Mapping & Data

In Ask Me Anything!, Jim Stegeman of CostQuest Says Broadband Fabric Will Improve

Fabric data will continue to improve with feedback implementation and process changes, said CostQuest CEO.



Photo of Jim Stegeman, CEO of CostQuest

WASHINGTON, May 12, 2023 – There are unrealistic expectations for the broadband mapping process despite its continual improvement, said Jim Stegeman, president and CEO of CostQuest, the mapping company that was hired to deliver fabric data to the Federal Communications Commission, during an Ask Me Anything! event in the broadband community on Friday. 

“We will never get to allocation if we are after perfection,” said Stegeman, claiming that the company has been working hard to improve its processes over time.  

The broadband fabric data is a dataset that maps all locations at which “fixed broadband internet access service has been or could be installed.” The FCC populates its National Broadband Map with the fabric data. The National Telecommunications and Information Administration has committed to allocating federal broadband funding by June 30 based on a version of the map. 

Since its initial roll-out and subsequent challenge process – in which providers and state broadband offices have been able to challenge coverage claims by submitting contrary evidence – many have complained about the map’s many inaccuracies. 

CostQuest maintains that the fabric identifies 99.3 percent of all broadband serviceable locations correctly and is “very good” where it stands. 

Fabric will be continual improved 

Stegeman outlined in his remarks areas in which the fabric and its processes will continue to improve in the coming iterations.  

Each version of the fabric implements feedback, he said. Version two incorporated over a million new BSLs, 178,000 of which came from the FCC’s challenge process and 860,000 from CostQuest’s internal efforts to improve the fabric.  

The FCC is currently in the process of releasing the next version of the National Broadband Map based on version two of the fabric data. This version of the map is expected to be the map which the NTIA allocates BEAD funding. 

Subsequent iterations of the map will support state deployment and challenge processes, said Stegeman. 

Version two also improved tribal land BSL identification by updating the logic that identifies whether a parcel of land holds a BSL and whether it contains multiple or single units. 

Furthermore, through contractual agreement with the FCC, CostQuest has retained a file – facetiously titled the detritus file – that stores information on where water towers, sheds, chicken coops, and other agricultural buildings are located.  

Precision agriculture, the process of using broadband to optimize agricultural production, requires broadband connection to these locations, often located miles away from homes and other BSLs. The FCC anticipates that this location data may be of future use, said Stegeman.

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Broadband Mapping & Data

Overreporting on State Broadband Maps Could Hinder Spread of Connectivity to Communities

Overreporting in maps may prove to be detrimental.



NEW ORLEANS, May 10, 2023 – Overreporting served areas on broadband coverage maps may serve to disguise connectivity needs of communities, said Jason Hunt, CEO of CableSouth, speaking at a Broadband Breakfast Live Online event. 

Louisiana’s state broadband office, ConnectLA, is working to build a state challenge process based on federal guidance for state broadband maps.  

Providers tend to inflate coverage claims, which represents the most fundamental issue of broadband coverage maps, Hunt claimed. Unfortunately, the areas in which speed claims are inflated are left out of funding opportunities, he said.  

For Louisiana, this issue is why a state challenge process is so essential, said Thomas Tyler, deputy director of ConnectLA. Federal guidance suggests that the challenge process errs on the side of accepting challenges, which can serve to eliminate overreporting, he added. 

Hunt, whose company does business as Swyft Fiber, expressed uncertainty that the process will solve the problem. According to NTIA guidance, only non-profits, internet service providers and communities can submit challenges. Individuals looking to challenge speed claims must rely on community institutions to submit the challenge.  

Photo of Jason Hunt of CableSouth, Tiffany Howard of LCTCS, Greg Ford of Southern University at New Orleans, Thomas Tyler of ConnectLA, and Drew Clark of Broadband Breakfast (left to right)

ConnectLA is working on the allocation and deployment process of its Giving Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities program, which includes $176 million from the Treasury Department’s Capital Projects Fund. The office is also deploying broadband through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund. 

The state is supplementing the National Broadband Map, which is populated with national, location-level coverage data, with its own data from the GUMBO and RDOF programs. The maps have “changed the game” for providers, said Hunt.  

The GUMBO program also invests capital in workforce development. The Louisiana Community and Technical College System is using money to educate college campuses on available careers in the telecommunications industry and to develop training programs for its students. The program has seen a lot of success, said Tiffany Howard, director of transportation and logistics at LCTCS. 

Applications for the GUMBO program require that potential awardees submit workforce development plans to support future needs, she added. 

Louisiana was the first state to receive planning funds from the Digital Equity and Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment programs and will be the first to release its plans. We are excited to receive public feedback from our plans, said Tyler.

The Broadband Breakfast Live Online event was orchestrated with ConnectLA and hosted at the Greater New Orleans Foundation on Tuesday. It was pre-recorded and webcast on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET.

Our Broadband Breakfast Live Online events take place on Wednesday at 12 Noon ET. Watch the event here on Broadband Breakfast.

Wednesday, May 10, 2023, 12 Noon ET – GUMBO and Louisiana’s Broadband Progress

Since its creation in 2020, Louisiana’s state broadband office has accrued an impressive list of accomplishments: Louisiana was the first state to be awarded a planning grant from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, the first state to receive federal approval for broadband funding from the American Rescue Plan and the nation’s number one state for per capita adoption of the Affordable Connectivity Program. With an ambitious goal of eliminating Louisiana’s digital divide by 2029, ConnectLA’s Granting Unserved Municipalities Broadband Opportunities program — otherwise known as GUMBO — recently awarded more than $170 million to projects that ultimately aim to serve over 80,000 locations across the state. In this Broadband Breakfast Live Online session, hear directly from the leaders of Louisiana’s broadband efforts about how they are approaching this pivotal moment.


  • Jason Hunt, CEO, CableSouth
  • Tiffany Howard, Director of Transportation and Logistics, Louisiana Community and Technical College System
  • Greg Ford, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Southern University at New Orleans
  • Thomas Tyler, Deputy Director, ConnectLA
  • Drew Clark, Editor and Publisher, Broadband Breakfast

Jason Hunt is CEO of CableSouth.

Dr. Tiffany J. Howard, CWD, serves on the Louisiana Community and Technical College System’s Academic and Workforce team as the Director of Transportation Industry Initiatives. She is responsible for providing technical assistance, leadership, and support concerning high-quality training programs that meet the state’s and prospective employers’ needs. Her major projects include designing and implementing the first dual enrollment Transportation pathway curriculum, leading the $3.5M Professional Resilience Occupations (PRO) project in collaboration with the Office of Community Development, leading the statewide $10M Broadband training project, leading the nationwide Noncredit and Credit Alignment project, serving as lead on the Haas training project, and establishing partnerships with various industries seeking workforce solutions across the state.

Dr. Gregory Ford is a native of Louisiana and the Vice Chancellor of Academic Affairs and Southern University at New Orleans. Dr. Ford is the Principal Investigator on a $3M National Telecommunication and Information Administration-Connecting Minority Communities Pilot Grant to provide digital literacy and broadband access to the New Orleans Area. The goal of the grant is to address digital equity and inclusion in underserved communities.

Thomas Tyler, deputy director of ConnectLA, has experience in technology strategy, cybersecurity concerns, economic development and public policy disciplines. Throughout the past 13 years, he has operated in a variety of roles supporting public and private entities. Most recently, he served as a consultant and adviser for one of the nation’s leading cybersecurity and technology advisory practices. Thomas’ experience includes providing information security and technology strategy, consulting and training services to a variety of clients.

Drew Clark (moderator) is CEO of Breakfast Media LLC. He 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.

WATCH HERE, or on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

As with all Broadband Breakfast Live Online events, the FREE webcasts will take place at 12 Noon ET on Wednesday.

SUBSCRIBE to the Broadband Breakfast YouTube channel. That way, you will be notified when events go live. Watch on YouTubeTwitter and Facebook.

See a complete list of upcoming and past Broadband Breakfast Live Online events.

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