Broadband Mapping a Hot Issue

. . . a hot topic at Tuesday’s NTIA oversight hearing: broadband mapping. Walden said he wants NTIA “back in this space” after handing off the National Broadband Map to the FCC in 2014. President Trump in a recent budget request asked for $50 million to go the NTIA for broadband mapping. The FCC revived a version of the National Broadband Map this year, but Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) said criticisms of inaccurate FCC coverage data “raise questions of whether the FCC should be in charge of broadband mapping.” He has a bill that would put the National Broadband Map back at the Commerce Department. Redl said the administration’s request for additional money is meant not only to produce a map but also to really assess how the data are collected. Redl said NTIA’s partnerships with state and local governments bolster its broadband mapping capabilities.

Source: POLITICO Morning Tech

Inaccurate broadband maps have been a significant infrastructure issue if providers cannot identify the neighborhoods that do not have broadband, or where the broadband is substandard, it is impossible to make effective plans to resolve this issue. This is especially true in rural areas, where communities are often on the cusp of urban coverage. While some neighborhoods have coverage, others do not. Previous maps have been based on advertised speeds and coverage models. The real world is far different from the information displayed on the broadband maps. If one household in a census block had broadband access it was assumed that all homes in the census block have access. This was a gross distortion of the real world. It is imperative that NITA and it’s State Partners can come up with a solution for validating the real coverage and coverage deficiencies. It is going to be a real challenge as most people do not know how to measure their real broadband coverage.

Last year I built a broadband speed test box, based on the Raspberry Pi 3, with a 100Mbps either net port using some open source software. I modified the software just to produce a CVS file which could be analyzed and graphed using a Python program which I wrote. Here is a sample graph:

Wave Tri Display

As you can see from the graphic the upload speed was close to 1Mbps when it should have been around 4 Mbps.

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