As policymakers work to close the digital divide, accurate broadband availability maps are crucially important. The FCC recently updated it’s national broadband maps, but numerous errors persist. Since these maps will guide policymakers as they determine where billions of dollars are spent on rural broadband deployment, taking swift action to ensure these maps are accurate is essential.With tens of billions of dollars in federal funding available to build broadband in unserved and underserved areas, electric cooperatives and their members are being encouraged to immediately review a new nationwide map of Internet coverage from the Federal Communications Commission and report any discrepancies to ensure the money goes where it’s needed.
Challenges to the FCC National Broadband Map, which was released Nov. 18, should be filed with the commission by Jan. 13, 2023, to ensure revisions are made before the National Telecommunications and Information Administration makes funding decisions this summer. We are encouraging our member owners to make the final push and check the accuracy of the FCC National Broadband Map and to
challenge if necessary.
“Any challenge filed by then will have the best chance” of making it into “the map that we will ultimately use to make allocations,” NTIA Administrator Alan Davidson told NRECA Broadband Leadership Summit attendees in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 17.
NTIA is in charge of the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment program—the largest recipient of the historic $65 billion in the 2021 infrastructure law to provide “internet for all.” The allocation of BEAD funding to states is expected to be announced by June 30.
BEAD funds will first go to unserved areas lacking internet access speeds of 25 megabits per second download and 3 Mbps upload. Then, once a state has a plan to address those areas, BEAD funds will go underserved areas that lack 100/20 Mbps broadband.
“We're urging our member-owners to review the FCC maps and check for any errors. It's imperative to make sure that these maps are accurate to ensure funding goes to the areas in our community that need it most,” said Marshall Cherry, President and CEO at Roanoke Electric Cooperative and its subsidiary Roanoke Connect.
Let the FCC know by Jan. 13, 2023