The NTIA said Friday that the next update to the National Broadband Map will come out June 30 as planned, rejecting requests made by some states for an extension. Those states wanted more time to file challenges to map data.
That’s important because the next version of the map is the one that NTIA will use in determining how much of $42.5 billion in BEAD funding goes to each state. BEAD funding will cover some of the costs of deploying broadband to unserved and underserved rural areas.
In a blog post, NTIA noted that while some states wanted the extension, some other states said they didn’t want the map to be delayed because they didn’t want funding to be delayed.
“Unfortunately, a delay in the timeline would mean a delay in providing funding to communities that desperately need it,” NTIA said in Friday’s blog post.
Friday also was the date by which the agency had advised stakeholders to file challenges to broadband availability data to increase the likelihood that the FCC would be able to resolve the challenges in time for them to be reflected in the June 30 map update.
In an email to Telecompetitor the same day, though, a spokesman for NTIA suggested there might be some wiggle room for additional broadband availability challenges to be reflected in the June 30 map.
NTIA chose the January 13 date based on the maximum amount of time that the FCC can take to resolve a challenge, the spokesman explained. He added, though, that “we expect that many challenges filed after today can be resolved in far less time than the maximum allowed under the FCC’s rules, so we have encouraged (and continue to encourage) states to continue to submit challenges to the FCC.”
Broadband Challenge Filings
Those comments only apply to broadband availability challenges, however. That data indicates whether broadband is available to a location.
In the email to Telecompetitor Friday, the NTIA spokesman confirmed that it was already too late for challenges to the broadband serviceable location data to be reflected on the June 30 map. He said the map would be based on the broadband serviceable locations shown on the version of the map that was released earlier this month. According to NTIA’s Friday blog post, more than a million locations were added to that version of the map.
Of course, the pace at which the FCC can address availability challenges depends on how many it has received.
NTIA’s Friday blog post noted that the FCC already has received over a million challenges to availability data.
Telecompetitor asked NTIA if the one million availability challenges included challenges made prior to the latest update to the map, since that update or both. The spokesman advised us to direct our question to the FCC, which is responsible for the broadband map updates.
An FCC spokesperson has not yet answered our inquiry.
One more thought on this: Even if the FCC isn’t able to incorporate availability challenges filed after Friday’s deadline on the June 30 map, it would seem that policymakers should know how many stakeholders filed challenges that didn’t make the deadline — which may be another reason NTIA is encouraging continued filings.
Updated with additional analysis.