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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.

Broadband Breakfast is a decade-old news organization based in Washington that is building a community of interest around broadband policy and internet technology, with a particular focus on better broadband infrastructure, the politics of privacy and the regulation of social media. Learn more about Broadband Breakfast.

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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