In furtherance of its goal of closing the digital divide and informing consumers about their options for broadband service, the FCC has launched a new, interactive version of the National Broadband Map (NBM) which allows users to set parameters by geographic area, speed, and technology to determine what services are available at a particular street address, a particular city or county, or throughout the nation as a whole.
Unveiled yesterday, the new online tool, found at www.broadbandmap.fcc.gov, represents the first update of the NBM since June 2014. According to the FCC, the new NBM is built on a cloud-based platform that “will support more frequent data updates and display improvements at a far lower cost than the original mapping platform.” Data used in the new NBM is based on FCC Form 477 reports, submitted by the nation’s fixed wireline broadband providers that reflect service availability as of the end of 2016. Although the new NBM does not include data on mobile broadband service availability, the FCC said such data would be offered to the public through a separate series of maps that may be accessed at www.fcc.gov/reports-research/maps.
Specifically, the new NBM allows users to access fixed broadband summaries for seven different geographical parameters: nation, state, county, congressional district, city or town, tribal area and core-based statistical area. Broadband availability and provider counts are available for six technologies (i.e., fiber, DSL, cable, satellite, fixed wireless and other) in each of the nation’s 11 million census blocks, and summary data is available for 1,782 service providers by technology, download speed tiers and upload speed tiers. The online NBM also includes a satellite imagery map overlay which depicts buildings and roads and graphs that show what fraction of an area’s population has access to broadband at a particular speed.
Although FCC Chairman Ajit Pai described the new NBM as a “pretty darn good first step,” FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel declared that, “while this is good for starters . . . there are serious shortcomings we do need to address.” Chief among these shortcomings, said Rosenworcel, is the lack of mobile broadband coverage data. Observing, “I think it does the country a disservice to have a National Broadband Map with only half the picture,” Rosenworcel asserted: “it is disappointing if our efforts here end with fixed technologies.”