FCC fInally Orders ISPs to Say Exactly Where They Offer Broadband

ISPs will have to submit geospatial maps of broadband service areas.

Details at ArsTechnica:

The Federal Communications Commission voted today to collect more accurate data about which parts of the US have broadband and which parts lack high-speed connectivity. From now on, home Internet providers will have to give the FCC geospatial maps of where they provide service instead of merely reporting which census blocks they offer service in.

Continue reading HERE

When I was doing broadband mapping for SEDCorp/Gold County Broadband Consortia, I helped several small ISPs with mapping problems. Many ISPs only had Excel files of user addresses to produces geospatial maps of there coverage area. I used Arc/GIS Online to plot the coverage. This information was considered sensitive information and held very close, should competitors gain access. For small ISP a $2500 fee for Arc/GIS license can be a challenge unless other uses can are found for this geoprocessing software. However, a 21-day free trial is available. (Problem is a steep learning curve)

An alternative is QGIS. QGIS, also known as Quantum GIS, is a free and open-source cross-platform desktop geographic information system. QGIS supports viewing, editing, and analysis of geospatial data. I produced the 5G cell phone coverage plots (here) in QGIS. The problem for small ISPs is QGIS, and Arc/GIS have relatively long learning curves.

Consultants like Steve Blum (link in right column) and companies specializing in GIS systems could also be helpful. In my opinion, all the CPUC Broadband Consortia should have an Arc/GIS or QGIS package and be prepared to help their small ISPs map their coverage areas.

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