Austin, TX. (February 24, 2020) – In late January, Connected Nation Texas (CN Texas) published initial broadband availability maps as part of a project to identify areas served and unserved by high-speed internet access. They are the first state-level broadband maps developed since 2014.
While federal broadband datasets exist, they are heavily flawed and there is evidence of both overstatement and understatement of broadband access when using these datasets to determine availability of services in a given area. CN Texas has heard from several providers that visualizations of their federal data do not match their actual service areas — further confirmation of federal datasets not meeting expectations on accurately mapping served and unserved areas.
With this in mind, CN Texas uses a four-pronged approach to develop maps that are more accurate than the federal datasets alone. These methods include direct
broadband service provider outreach, performing field validation, collecting public feedback, and conducting additional research to develop individual provider service areas by each available technology type.
The broadband data displayed on the initial maps were developed from a combination of direct provider outreach and data collection, FCC Form 477 broadband deployment filings (the federal datasets mentioned above), and independent research. If a broadband provider was unwilling or unable to supply granular data and a detailed service area could not be developed, the provider’s service availability is represented by FCC Form 477 data.
The initial broadband maps break down availability into two layers. The dark green layer represents the service areas that are detailed and granular in nature, where there is more confidence in the accuracy of services being available at a location. The lighter green layer represents those service areas represented by the federal data, where there is less confidence that all households within the service area truly have access to broadband.
While these are initial broadband maps, we need your help to make them more accurate!
CN Texas is collecting public feedback through June 2020 on areas where the maps may be inaccurate or need further investigation into the actual boundaries of broadband service areas. Updated Texas broadband maps will be published at the end of July 2020 that will include updates and new data received from providers, refinements based on confirmed public feedback, revisions and additions from field validation work by CN Texas engineers, and the results of additional research conducted to improve the accuracy of the maps.
Regular updates to state broadband maps are essential to provide policymakers with the information needed to focus efforts and available funding into the areas that need it most. Inaccurate broadband maps lead to overbuilding broadband services that already exist in an area and, more importantly, they lead to not expanding to unserved and underserved areas. Any potential grant program(s) that would fund broadband expansion efforts would heavily rely on broadband maps to determine areas eligible for funding. Accurate and regularly updated broadband maps are an essential part of getting it right.
Help make the broadband maps more accurate by submitting your feedback!
To view the initial Texas broadband maps, visit the following link, where there are state and county PDF maps, as well as an interactive map where you can enter your address to get a list of providers potentially available at that location: https://connectednation.org/texas/mapping-analysis/
To provide feedback on the accuracy of the maps, visit the following link, where you can enter your broadband story and put a pin on the map for the exact location where the map inaccuracy exists: https://connectednation.org/texas/feedback
About the Author: Ashley Hitt, Director, GIS Services oversees the day-to-day operations of the GIS team. She’s responsible for developing strategies using GIS to provide data visualization solutions that impact policy, economic development, and the digital divide.
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