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Montana Mapping Official: Treasury Deadline for ARPA Fund Disbursement Probably Too Soon

Montana’s chief data officer believes 2026 is too early for state mapping to be completed and funding requests submitted.



Photo of Chad Rupe by U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation

April 13, 2022 – Montana’s chief data officer on Tuesday cast doubt about whether all needed American Rescue Plan Act funds will be able to get distributed by the Department of Treasury’s 2026 deadline.

State officer Adam Carpenter says that from what he sees, states around the nation will need more time to map broadband access for their residents and place funding requests with the federal government under ARPA.

Speaking at an event hosted by LightBox, the information and technology platform constructing Montana’s ConnectMT state broadband map, on Montana’s state broadband program implementation, Carpenter said he is “very worried” that not all funds necessary for broadband infrastructure upgrades will be able to be received from the Treasury by its 2026 deadline.

“I think at this point that the Treasury’s probably gonna have to extend that deadline,” said Carpenter.

He stated that only five states have started the process of mapping access and collecting that mapping data for ARPA fund application as Montana has, and that Montana is “well ahead” of all of them.

Tuesday’s LightBox program highlighted several challenges that state broadband offices like Montana’s face and that other state’s broadband offices should make note of for their infrastructure build efforts.

Montana’s broadband program officer Chad Rupe stated that state offices are relatively new to broadband fund deployment and thus that careful attention must be paid to setting up a strong state broadband program. Hiring office staff who are experienced with broadband was also emphasized throughout the program.

Carpenter explained that extensive planning is needed for broadband programs so that crews do not plan to build broadband projects where internet providers may already be working on infrastructure, and Rupe added that care must also be taken not to overbuild infrastructure in areas where congressional action did not intend it.

According to Rupe, from what he has seen in Montana’s planning it is very possible that supply chain issues can delay infrastructure project builds.

Bill Price, LightBox’s vice president of government solutions, stated that LightBox will be assisting with a webinar to educate other states through demonstration on how they can use internet access mapping to pursue broadband infrastructure projects. Price said LightBox plans on reaching out to states within 30 days to plan its education efforts.

Reporter T.J. York received his degree in political science from the University of Southern California. He has experience working for elected officials and in campaign research. He is interested in the effects of politics in the tech sector.

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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Broadband Mapping & Data

Next Century Cities Presses FCC for ‘Average’ Speed on Broadband Label

The group also recommended a more streamlined complaint process for digital discrimination issues.



Screenshot of Francella Ochillo, executive director of Next Century Cities

WASHINGTON, March 2, 2023 – Advocacy group Next Century Cities pressed Federal Communications Commission officials in a meeting late last month to incorporate the average speeds of internet packages on the new broadband label instead of just “typical” speeds.

“An average speed allows consumers to understand the real speeds they can expect to receive, whereas typical speeds can only provide the potential speed a consumer might receive,” the group said in a Thursday letter summarizing the meeting. “Broadband speed estimates are typically higher than actual speeds delivered.”

The FCC is now in the process of gathering more input as to whether it should include more information on the label that is supposed to resemble nutrition panels on foods. The labels have been ordered by the commission in November after a consultation with the public.

The group also pushed for discounts consumers are eligible for and the state and local taxes that they would have to pay. “These data points enhance a consumer’s ability to understand the charges at the end of the month, which is also essential for the success of the CBNL.”

The point the group is pushing is that more granular data is required to get service to as many people as possible. “Absent granular data, the Commission will continue to have significant blind spots in broadband deployment, the success of its subsidy programs, and key areas that require digital discrimination investigations,” the NCC said in the letter.

Experts, however, have warned about the level of detail and additional information on the labels that may burden providers, including smaller outfits that have fewer resources than larger players.

In addition to the broadband speeds promised by the providers, the new labels must also display typical latency, time-of-purchase fees, data limits, and provider-contact information.

The NCC also recommended the FCC set up a “quasi-formal complaint process” for state and local governments, community anchor institutions like libraries, schools and health care facilities, and other organizations that collect digital discrimination data. This, it said, would allow for a less burdensome way to communicate issues without having to go through the “procedural burden” of a formal complaint.

“It would also promote collaboration between local officials, community leaders, anchor institutions, and the Commission which are all working to help end digital discrimination,” it said.

The commission is currently examining how to define digital discrimination when it comes to infrastructure builds.

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Broadband Mapping & Data

Garland McCoy: On Maps, States Need a Digital Sheriff to Fend for Themselves

The day the music stopped for rural America with the release of FCC’s “new” map.



The author of this Expert Opinion is Garland McCoy, Executive Director of Precision Ag Connectivity and Accuracy Stakeholder Alliance

State Broadband Officials are justifiably bewildered over how Washington, DC operates. In just the last week, NTIA’s BEAD program director signaled that the “new” FCC Map released in November of 2022 will not be the only map — nor the primary map — consulted when determining the distribution of BEAD funding to a state. Not surprisingly, he had to immediately walk the statement back.

At the same time, we’ve seen FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel plead with the states to help fix the “new” FCC map. She also recently announced that the FCC is launching a campaign to identify and hold ISPs accountable if they have provided inflated network service speeds for the “new” FCC map.

One could conclude that officials in Washington view citizens outside of D.C. as intellectually challenged. Why? It’s been well known for many years that the FCC allows — and indeed encourages — ISPs to post their advertised networks speeds (not their real network service speeds) on the FCC maps, which is why the “new” FCC map continues to be flawed and mostly indistinguishable from the old FCC maps (hence my use of quotation marks).

None of this frankly surprises me given we’ve seen this movie before with each update of the FCC maps. Yet, I held out a glimmer of hope that this time would be different. This time the FCC received clear directions as part of the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability (DATA) Act of 2020 – legislation that specifically instructed the FCC to produce more accurate maps once and for all.

Notably, the Broadband DATA Act drew deep and broad bipartisan support in the otherwise hyper-partisan nation’s capital. In the Senate, the DATA Act boasted 70 Senate cosponsors, which made it one of the most bipartisan pieces of legislation enacted in the 116th Congress. It became Public Law 116-130 in March 2020 and called on the FCC to set up a process to collect “crowdsourced” data directly from citizens “on an ongoing basis” to “ensure that the Broadband Map is granular and accurate.”

These new and improved maps would then guide federal broadband deployment dollars to those areas of the country with no or subpar connectivity. That was music to the ears of tens of millions of rural Americans who still lack broadband. However, that music stopped on November 18, 2022 when the FCC released its “new” and inaccurate maps.

States must now look to the future and look to themselves to ensure they are well-positioned for additional broadband infrastructure funding that will be forthcoming from a variety of Federal agencies, untethered to the FCC Broadband Map. It’s time for states to get their own houses in order by ensuring that their respective broadband maps are supported by a statewide device-driven network metering program. A network metering program would allow states to validate their broadband data in a secure way and keep it up-to-date. It would also give states the ironclad data needed to support audits of ISP self-reported data, the FCC-mandated ISP broadband labels, and compliance with publicly funded broadband infrastructure contracts.

States need someone armed with security, industry-standard network monitoring

States need in effect, a “Digital Sheriff” who is armed with secure, industry-standard network monitoring/metering devices to do for broadband what is already done for other important essential services and commodities, e.g., the metering of electricity, natural gas, water to the home, and the gasoline you pump into your car. All are independently metered for the consumer’s protection. Somehow, as important as it is, broadband has escaped this same level of accountability. States should now step up and add this much needed accountability for broadband.

I do see a silver lining in all of this. The “new” FCC map and controversies around the CostQuest Fabric rollout have opened the eyes of many in the broadband stakeholder community. For example, it is spurring efforts to build an opensource Fabric data site that would provide this valuable information to the general public.

It reminds me of Craigslist and its genesis in 1996 as a free, unencumbered classified advertising website, while newspapers had charged for this service for the last century. Likewise, the latest FCC map episode has also focused attention on the need to meter broadband, as an essential service, the same way other essential services are metered for a customer’s protection and the public good.

We may very well be witnessing the final gasps of the FCC’s attempt to build a credible National Broadband Map. But from its ashes, states now have the opportunity to rise up and take on the responsibility of providing an accurate accounting – and in doing so, truly close the nation’s broadband gap.

If you want a citizen-centric partner in these validation and network metering initiatives, please reach out to us. PAgCASA ( is a non-profit organization focused on promoting rural prosperity, utilizing industry standard network monitoring/metering devices, litigation-ready methodologies, and an expert team and partnerships to accomplish our goals.

Garland T. McCoy, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Precision Ag Connectivity and Accuracy Stakeholder Alliance, is a long-time non-profit veteran in the fields of technology and telecommunication policy having served as Founder and CEO of the Technology Education Institute. Garland was recently an adjunct professor at Syracuse University’s iSchool, teaching information policy and decision making, and can be reached at This piece is exclusive to Broadband Breakfast.

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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