Why Is Mapping Important?
Broadband mapping is a critical step toward visualizing what communities still lack access to high-speed, affordable internet in our state. The Federal Communications Commission has published maps to determine how much broadband funding states will receive from the federal government to shore up gaps in their internet service. As part of this process, states, residents, cities, parishes and businesses were encouraged to challenge the accuracy of these maps. Because accuracy is the determining factor for federal broadband funding, we are working to ensure communities stay engaged with the mapping process and that the level of service indicated on these maps reflects the reality on the ground.
There are many resources available to identify broadband access, federal programs and mapping tools that stakeholders can use to investigate what is available and coming to your community. Linked below are just a few!
The FCC Fixed Broadband Deployment Map is a great starting point for local governmental units. While not exact, this map can give local leaders a directional sense of the areas within their communities that may lack access to broadband service
The Rural Digital Opportunity Fund is a federal program that awarded funding to internet service providers who committed to providing broadband service to unserved areas. These locations are important to local governmental units for two reasons. First, as a community works to solve its digital divide, it may be beneficial to communicate with RDOF winning companies that will be deploying broadband in areas near your community. Secondly, if a community would like to participate as a partner in the GUMBO grant program, it is important to know that RDOF areas are not eligible.
The Connect America Fund was a comprehensive reform of the Universal Service Fund (USF) and Intercarrier Compensation (ICC) systems to accelerate broadband build-out to the approximately 23 million Americans (as of December 31, 2013) who lacked access to infrastructure capable of providing 10/1 Mbps fixed broadband.
The Connect America Fund Phase II was part of the FCC’s reform and modernization of its universal service support programs. In 2018, 103 bidders won $1.49 billion over 10 years to provide fixed broadband and voice services to over 700,000 locations in 45 states.
The ReConnect Program offers unique federal financing and funding options in the form of loans, grants, and loan/grant combinations to facilitate broadband deployment in areas of rural America that don’t currently have sufficient access to broadband.
The U.S. Department of Commerce’s NTIA released a new publicly available digital map that displays key indicators of broadband needs across the country. This map links poverty usage and broadband access by compiling data sets to show where high-poverty communities are located with relation to internet usage patterns and access to computers and related equipment.