Considering that the nation’s new interactive broadband map contains 25 million data points that can be searched in numerous ways, it’s impossible to devise a headline that summarizes what the new map reveals about the state of broadband deployment in the U.S. today.

Instead the telecompetitor community will find it more interesting to check out the map on their own and use its interactive functionality to graphically display data about their own local area, which they can do at the county or census tract level by using zoom functionality akin to what is provided by sites such as Mapquest. Users can find out how many service providers serve a particular area by technology or speed—and can even see the names of each provider (check it out to see if your territory is accurate and let us know in the comments section below).

“It’s more than just a map; it’s a huge database of information,” said Lawrence Strickling, administrator of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration on a webcast with reporters this morning where the map was unveiled.

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Using the interactive map platform, users can see a display of key data about their local area, such as the number of anchor institutions and how many of those institutions can get broadband at a specific speed.

The one specific finding that really jumped out at me relates to those anchor institutions. Two-thirds of surveyed schools subscribe to broadband service at speeds lower than 25 Mb/s, even though studies by state education technology directors have found that most schools need a connection of 50 Mb/s to 100 Mb/s per 1000 students. And only four percent of libraries subscribe to broadband at speeds greater than 25 Mb/s.

It’s not clear whether this situation exists because the anchor institutions cannot afford higher speeds or because high-speed broadband is not available. My guess is that it’s a bit of both. An important goal of the middle mile stimulus awards made by the NTIA was to improve broadband availability for anchor institutions —and it will be interesting to track the gains made by anchor institutions as a result, which should now be relatively easy to do, as the plan is to update the national broadband map twice yearly.

The NTIA and the broadband stimulus program also were responsible, in large part, for the creation of the new broadband map. Each of the 50 states, as well as key U.S. territories and the District of Columbia received stimulus funding to gather data for the map. The NTIA collected and verified that data, as well as developing the interactive platform.

The interactive map will be a “useful tool for businesses looking to expand” because it will enable them to easily identify areas with broadband connectivity, said FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski on today’s webcast.  Genachowski added that the map also uses open application programming interfaces, which should enable web developers to create applications that draw on the map data.

The map also has a function to let users view the results of broadband speed tests that users have been conducting nationwide using tools developed at the direction of the FCC.

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12 thoughts on “National Broadband Map Unveiled, Anchor Institutions Underserved?

  1. I know that a wireless provider in our area is not on the map. They weren't even aware of the data collection process. Connected Nation was the data collector in our state, and they did a good job of reaching out to the MSOs and LECs in the state, but some of the non-traditionals were missed.

    1. We are a fiber to the home provider passing almost 7,000 homes in rural Iowa. When the email message from Connected Nation came through we all though it was spam. We ignore at least three emails before we finally got a call, and we checked with the IUB to verify their identity.

      Working with them afterwards was smooth, a real pleasure, but I think they did a poor job of identifying themselves up front and explaining what they were doing. Some of our neighbor telcos had similar experiences. The IUB didn't do much in helping them by failing to introduce them to the local carriers ahead of time.

      1. Tony:

        The state telecom trade associations, in their weekly newsletters and other forums, said that CN would be contacting each telco. The IUB reached out through the state telecom associations, too.

  2. According to the map, Verizon is offering 50-100mbps in our neighborhood, which I assume means it thinks Verizon is offering Fios. This is not accurate. Fios is not available in our neighborhood.

  3. Is anyone else having a problem with the map not working and the Ookla speed test not working. I assume that the website does not adequate bandwidth for the demand or the servers are overloaded.

    I used it yesterday morning before the announcement, but haven't been able to get the map to work since.

  4. We operate a CLEC in a neighboring Qwest town with better broadband penetration than Qwest, yoet we don't show up on the map – go figure.

  5. POS only works in Microsoft Explorer, and is way to slow, this site should not even be active at this slow of rate. They got 100's of millions of dollars from stimulus funds and still could not make a fully functional site. And people wounder why the new government wants better over site of the stimulus funds.

  6. aj- I cannot get the map to show me anything. Not much good that way. Like most things the government does these days – just white space for a whole lot of wasted money.

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