Is There Hope for Broadband Maps That Suck?

Recently I’ve sat in a couple of gatherings of local government IT, economic development and other department managers who are planning broadband strategy for their respective towns or regions. One theme pops up frequently, and it’s about those broadband maps.

Connected Nation recently announced an upgrade to their mapping application that’s being used in S. Carolina. There’s another story, though. One state resident saw on the map that his home had AT&T DSL service. But when Joe Roget called the company, “They said they had no idea what I was talking about and that whatever map data I was looking at was totally wrong,” Roget reports to Stop the Cap! “The operator was frank with me, saying it was highly unlikely I would ever receive DSL from AT&T and the company was really not expanding DSL access any longer.”

Joe isn’t alone. I spend a lot of time at conferences, in meetings and on the phone with stakeholders from a variety of rural and urban communities across the country. Read a lot of articles about this map issue too. I’m convinced this problem exists in more places than the powers that be let on.

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Hey, Your National Broadband Map’s Here.

I listened to NTIA’s press briefing on the national broadband map (NBM) and when it was over, I posed the question on Twitter: What do we have?

We have 1) An expensive map, though mercifully under budget. 2) A data intensive map (I’m seriously awed by the breadth of it). 3) A nice tool for creating all kinds of reports that will have varying levels of value. 4) Ample signs that people worked hard on this, delivered on time and deserve a vacation.

I should state that I haven’t looked at the actual map except to try to find details on where I live, and to look at the rankings of states based on the percentage of populations that have 1 gigabit service. Slow speeds and browser freeze kinda dampers things.

Anywho, the real question everyone should be asking is, what do we have relative to the main mission of this mapping exercise? Is this end product worth $200 million in the overall scheme of improving broadband in America through better policy and financial decision making?

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