The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) revealed late last week that it plans to release what it called “a pre-production draft” of broadband accessibility maps on November 18, 2022.
The maps will provide the FCC’s estimation of broadband availability throughout the U.S. as of June 30, 2022, based on input from service providers delivered earlier this year.
Among other uses, the map will provide guidance to the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) as it allocates funds to states from the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program.
The map will contain location level information on broadband availability across the U.S.
The map will be searchable by address; there is a mechanism by which the accuracy of the information for each address can be disputed.
In addition to giving individuals the ability to correct potential errors, the FCC also will accept bulk challenges to the reported data from state and tribal governments as well as what it called “other entities.”
The information presented in map November 18 map will have been checked against the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric, a database that the FCC says contains all of the locations for which fixed internet access either is or can be installed.
The Fabric has already endured a round of challenges that began in September.
The FCC says that further challenges to the Fabric based on the broadband map data will be possible via the map interface.
Given the importance of the maps to the BEAD effort and for other purposes, it seems likely that such challenges have only begun.
Nevertheless, the NTIA estimates that it will provide BEAD allocation notifications by June 20, 2023.