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Broadband Mapping & Data

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

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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

Broadband Breakfast Panelists Pitch Solutions for Finer Broadband Mapping Data

Experts argue for significant changes in order for broadband mapping efforts to be successful.

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Screenshot from Broadband Breakfast event on July 7th.

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.

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Broadband Mapping & Data

Broadband Breakfast Interview with John Busby of BroadbandNow About FCC Data Errors

Though the FCC has claimed that broadband figures are improving, BroadbandNow’s data paints a less favorable picture.

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Screenshot from interview with John Busby

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.

Continue Reading

Broadband Mapping

Washington State’s Russ Elliot Touts Mapping to the Doorstep as Key to Success

Washington State’s head of broadband says mapping to the premises paying dividends in the state.

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Photo of Russ Elliot

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.

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