Subscribe / Unsubscribe Enewsletters | Login | Register

Pencil Banner

Update: U.S. broadband map shows large uncovered areas

Grant Gross | Feb. 17, 2011
Large swaths of the western and southern U.S. do not have access to wired or fixed wireless broadband, according to a new national broadband map released by two U.S. agencies Thursday.

Strickling said he suspects the broadband map will confirm the choices the NTIA made, although the agency focused more on building middle-mile access and bringing broadband to community institutions than on the residential broadband service the map shows.

The map allows users to search by address. The map shows that the area around the FCC's headquarters in southwest Washington, D.C., has 14 wired or wireless broadband providers offering download speeds of 768 Kbps or faster, but only one provider offering service of 10 Mbps to 25 Mbps and none offering faster speeds.

Fessenden, North Dakota, a farming community with about 600 residents, has two wired and two mobile providers, although one wired provider offers service of 25 to 50 Mbps, according to the map. Riverside, a town with about 60 residents in south central Wyoming, has one broadband provider offering speeds of 1.5 to 3 Mbps.

The map project, which will cost about $200 million over five years, includes money for states to update their broadband data. Data from about 1,600 broadband providers is included in the map, officials said.

Verizon Communications praised the broadband map, saying it will be useful for consumers.

But some critics questioned its accuracy and usefulness. NTIA has created a "good map" with lots of useful information, but it lacks solid data on broadband speed, said community broadband consultant Craig Settles.

"It is a shame that the map's potential value is severely crippled by incumbents' refusal to provide the one element of data that is key to the main reason for having the map -- accurate speeds," he said. "By and large, this map will always be incomplete. The two pieces of data needed by federal, state and local governments to create useful broadband policy and to spend money effectively for broadband projects are actual speeds plus a true picture of the competitive landscape within any given area."

The map's crowd-sourcing feature will update slowly, Settles added. "More importantly, if a community doesn't have a broadband connection crowd-sourcing data from them will be a little difficult," he added.


Previous Page  1  2 

Sign up for Computerworld eNewsletters.