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Rural Broadband Availability is Vastly Overestimated Thanks to Flawed FCC Data

By: Joan Engebreston, The Telecompetitor

(October 9, 2018) - The FCC has vastly overestimated rural broadband availability, according to a new report from the Center for Rural Affairs. The commission has been relying on Form 477 data in gauging where broadband is available for purposes of the Connect America Fund and Universal Service Fund programs.

Individual states also have relied on that data. But the Center for Rural Affairs report author outlines several problems with using that data for that purpose. It’s an issue that others also have raised, but the Center for Rural Affairs report does a particularly thorough job in explaining the issue.

As the author of the Center for Rural Affairs report explains, broadband providers are required to file Form 477 twice yearly to summarize the census blocks they serve. In order to list a census block as “served,” providers must offer service to at least one household in the block (which may contain between 600 and 3,000 people) or must state that the block could be served without “an extraordinary commitment of resources,” according to the report.

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