FCC’s New Broadband Map Shows ISP Availability in Much More Detail

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(Credit: FCC)
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has taken yet another step to improve broadband accessibility. On Friday the agency unveiled its first major update to the National Broadband Map, an online tool Americans can use to locate availability and pricing information for internet services in their area.

The update incorporates the most detailed internet service provider (ISP) data the FCC has ever collected. Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel announced back in September that the agency had spent 18 months meeting with ISPs, legislators, Tribal entities, and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) to obtain location-by-location data regarding geographical broadband availability. The goal of this extensive research was to finally revise the FCC’s broadband map, which the agency introduced in 2020 after the passage of the Broadband DATA Act.

Though it certainly isn’t perfect, the updated map provides far more detailed location information than its previous iteration, which relied solely on census block data. Users can search their residential or business address to view which fixed and mobile providers service that area. The resulting ISP list displays a given provider’s purported upload and download speeds. If a user notices a discrepancy between what’s listed on the map and what’s actually available, they can challenge that list item—an inconvenient yet vital step that the FCC says is essential to building a more useful map.

The FCC’s map update comes just days after the release of a first-of-its-kind ISP study, which revealed providers’ widespread and habitual pricing, reliability, and anti-competitive blunders. Given rising awareness of ISPs’ exploitative practices, the FCC is working to hand power back to consumers using a number of tools. The map is one of them; so are the FCC’s new “broadband nutrition labels,” which require ISPs to disclose pricing, speeds, data caps, whether it participates in the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP), and more in an easily-digestible way. Users can even try an updated version of the FCC Speed Test app to quickly compare ISPs’ stated speeds with their real-life internet speeds.

“Today is an important milestone in our effort to help everyone, everywhere get specific information about what broadband options are available for their homes, and pinpointing places in the country where communities do not have the service they need,” said Chairwoman Rosenworcel in a statement. “By painting a more accurate picture of where broadband is and is not, local, state, and federal partners can better work together to ensure no one is left on the wrong side of the digital divide.”

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