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Broadband Mapping & Data

For Sake of Accurate Broadband Map, Gigi Sohn Urges Senators Not to Delay Her Vote as FCC Commissioner

Sohn added the Supreme Court decision in West Virginia could challenge net neutrality rules.



WASHINGTON, February 14, 2023 – The first thing that she will do as the fifth commissioner of the Federal Communications Commission is to get involved in improving the agency’s map on which billions in federal broadband infrastructure funds are dependent, Gigi Sohn said during her third Senate committee hearing Tuesday.

But a delay in her vote in the chamber that confirms presidential nominations may also prove too late for the assistance she said she could provide before the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, which relies on the map to deliver billions in federal dollars for broadband infrastructure, begins delivering the money to states.

That’s because the Commerce Department agency has targeted by June 30 the delivery of the $42.5 billion from its Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment program, which was created out of the Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act.

“That June 30th date is a really, really critical date, and that’s why time is really of the essence to get me confirmed because if I don’t get confirmed at all, there’s not going to be a fifth person on the FCC in time to do anything about those maps,” Sohn told the commerce committee, elaborating that the FCC is doing the best it can with the current four-person makeup of the commission.

“Now I can’t fix it myself,” Sohn added, “but I have unbelievable relationships with the states, including many of the states of folks that sit on this dais and I would love to help improve that broadband map.”

Sohn, who was nominated for the FCC for a second time by President Joe Biden, noted that she worked hard to sell the infrastructure bill to the public interest community because of its bipartisan support it received and the amount of money involved.

Since the first draft of the FCC map was released in November, there have been over 20 states involved in over a million challenges to the data underlying it. Commission chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a February letter to senators concerned about accuracy that the challenges amounted to less than one percent of total number of locations identified, but added the agency has spilled “significant resources” since the first version to improve its accuracy.

Republican senators drill in on net neutrality

Near the top of the hearing, committee chair Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., accused opposing Republicans of using controversies surrounding Sohn – such as what they called her partisan retweets related to views on policing and race – as a “proxy fight” for their concern about the nominee’s position on net neutrality.

Republicans on the committee – who attacked Sohn throughout the over-two-and-a-half-hour hearing on alleged conflict of interest issues related to things including financial donations to senators on the committee – have been concerned about Sohn’s clear support for the principle, which dictates that internet traffic should not be manipulated, slowed or sped up by the provider under any circumstances. The FCC under the leadership of Ajit Pai in 2017 reversed the Barack Obama era net neutrality rules established in 2015.

Republican senators on the committee wanted to know whether Sohn believes it should be Congress’s call to provide the authority to the FCC to make net neutrality rules or if the agency can go it alone.

While Sohn said she believes the FCC has the authority to unilaterally imposed such rules, she said she is in favor of deferring to Congress to give the commission explicit authority.

“I would love for Congress to give the FCC proper authority and specific authority to adopt net neutrality rules,” Sohn said.

“Congress has had two decades now to decide that authority and it’s refused to do so,” she added. “However, I still believe Congress should do so and I beg Congress to do so, but until then, until it does so, the agency has got to have authority.” Others have agreed that the FCC already has unilateral authority to reinstitute those rules.

This time, however, the Republicans have promised to increase oversight of the agency, empowered by a West Virginia v. EPA decision of the Supreme Court that determined administrative bodies must derive authority explicitly from Congress on major questions, including of economic- and policy-related matters.

“I think the FCC can and has the authority to act,” Sohn said in response to a question about whether she thinks the FCC can act on net neutrality unilaterally in light of the Supreme Court decision. “It doesn’t mean it won’t be challenged and the West Virginia case is going to be a challenge for net neutrality rules.”

Before the midterm elections, legislation was introduced that would have codified net neutrality in the law. Democratic senators Doris Matsui, Ca., Edward Markey, Mass., and Ron Wyden, Ore., introduced the Net Neutrality and Broadband Justice Act. Meanwhile, some states, including California, have already instituted net neutrality rules.

The FCC, for perspective, has previously deferred to Congress on a separate issue, asking the lawmaking body to determine the administrative body’s authority over expanding the funding base of the Universal Service Fund, which includes programs that provide basic telecommunications services to rural and remote areas.

Other FCC-related matters

Sohn also showed support to requests, currently being raised to the FCC, for the commission to expand the USF’s E-Rate program to cybersecurity tools. The E-Rate program helps schools and libraries obtain affordable internet.

“I think that’s something that the FCC should definitely look at,” Sohn said, noting the commission would need to do a proceeding on it. “I’ve hear about this in Arizona and other states and I think this is something where E-Rate funding — if we’re talking about making sure that K through 12 students have the best networks, the most secure networks — it seems to me, logical…to extend E-Rate funding to cybersecurity tools.”

The co-founder of internet advocacy group Public Knowledge was pushed through the same committee a year ago next month with a party-line vote, but never got a vote on the Senate floor, which is again in Democratic hands after the midterms.

“The Commerce Committee and then the full Senate should advance this nomination without further delays, which only benefit those big companies orchestrating this impasse,” said advocacy group Free Press in a statement. “If the Senate genuinely wants to improve the lives of internet users, cellphone customers, TV watchers and radio listeners — aka, everyone — it can start by confirming this excellent public servant to the FCC immediately.”

If voted in, she would represent the party tie-breaking vote on a commission that consists of two Democrats and two Republicans.

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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