Two more states and two U.S. territories are now participating in the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) National Broadband Availability Map (NBAM) project. Joining the project are Nevada, Louisiana, American Samoa and Puerto Rico, bringing the total of state and territory participants to 40.
The NBAM is a geographic information system (GIS) that enables visualization of broadband availability data from a variety of sources. Data for the platform is provided by the Federal Communications Commission, U.S. Census Bureau, Universal Service Administrative Company, USDA, Ookla, Measurement Lab, BroadbandNow, White Star and state governments.
The goal is to provide data for broadband projects and funding decisions. Also participating in the project are the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Department of the Treasury, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), the Economic Development Administration (EDA) and the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC).
The map is part of an ongoing effort to improve broadband maps and develop them as a tool to address the digital divide. Using multiple data sources may help overcome deficiencies in broadband availability data collected by the FCC. The commission and others have noted that the FCC data overestimates broadband availability because it considers an entire census block to have service even if only one location in the block actually has service available.
The FCC is in the process of correcting this problem, but participants in a Broadband Breakfast podcast last month agreed that accurate data is unlikely to be mapped until next year.
As of early 2021, the NTIA broadband map project had just 30 state participants.
Last June, the NTIA released the Indicators of Broadband Need (IBN), which the NTIA says is a “derivative” of the NBAM data sets that combines multiple third-party data sources. The IBN aims “to help the public better understand the digital divide and the connection between poverty and lack of broadband access or use.”