The Federal Communications Commission recently released a draft National Broadband Map, displaying specific location-level information about broadband services available throughout the country. This map is a significant step forward from the census block level data previously collected and will be used by NTIA to determine funding allocations for the $42.5 billion BEAD program created by last year's infrastructure bill. However, concerns about the accuracy of the new maps persist and NRECA and co-ops can play a key role in improving them.
The public is now able to view the maps at broadbandmap.fcc.gov and search for their address to see information about the availability of fixed and mobile services. The FCC is looking for assistance in identifying incorrect and incomplete information, which can be corrected by submitting a 'challenge' to the FCC.
NRECA encourages all co-ops, whether or not you participate in Broadband, to review the maps for accuracy and to make sure their member-consumers are aware of the new maps and to encourage them to check the FCC maps for accuracy.
There are a few ways co-ops can help NRECA verify the accuracy of the maps:
NRECA is partnering with NRTC to help member providers prepare data that is needed for a bulk “knowledge of infrastructure" availability challenge by the NTIA-requested January 13 deadline. Please note that the FCC will continue to accept challenges on a rolling basis, however NTIA has designated January 13, 2023 as the deadline for use in determining allocations for the distribution of BEAD funding.
Please let NRECA know if you plan to work with your own contractor to submit your own bulk challenge, or if you plan to share the individual challenge link with your membership by emailing Brian O'Hara (email@example.com) or Katie Culleton (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Individual co-op member-consumers are able to submit location availability challenges to the FCC. Co-ops should encourage their members to review the FCC maps for accuracy and submit inaccuracies in location or availability data via the FCC's mapping portal. They can either do this by directing their members to broadbandmap.fcc.gov, or in partnership with Voices for Cooperative Power (VCP).
Voices for Cooperative Power
VCP has launched a survey to help member-consumers determine whether or not they have sufficient broadband access at their home. Additionally, they have compiled resources to help member-consumers understand how to review and challenge the FCC data, as well as additional background on the FCC challenge efforts.
NRECA welcomes feedback on the maps and hearing from cooperatives who may want assistance in submitting challenges to the FCC: