State officials release new broadband maps
[Originally published in the Bedford Gazette, December 8, 2022]
One of the major issues in Bedford County, in relation to critical needs such as job creation, education, and healthcare, is access to better or more reliable broadband services.
A key step to that has now taken shape as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released new maps related to the process.
In September at a roundtable event of local business leaders hosted by the Bedford County Development Association (BCDA), Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority executive director Brandon Carson was hopeful that the long-awaited maps would be released before the close of the 2022 calendar year.
"This map is a critical step in closing the digital divide, and ensuring its accuracy is important. I encourage all Pennsylvanians to review the FCC broadband access map and provide corrections through the challenge process.”
Now that it has come to fruition, Carson is asking the public for their input, as data from the maps will help determine the total amount of federal money the state will receive. Pennsylvania is guaranteed $100 million for broadband upgrades, but the total dollar figure could be much higher.
“This map is a critical step in closing the digital divide, and ensuring its accuracy is important,” said Carson. “I encourage all Pennsylvanians to review the FCC broadband access map and provide corrections through the challenge process.”
According to officials, the new maps provide more clarity as to where and where not services by multiple internet providers are available, but incorrect information is still expected in some locations. The topographical layout of the county makes it vital for the data to be as accurate as possible.
“While the FCC’s new national broadband map is an improvement over the previous maps, the Authority recognizes there are still inaccuracies that need to be addressed,” said Carson. “The Authority understands the importance of completing a robust review of the new maps and ensuring the state is prepared to challenge any misrepresented data. The accuracy of the map impacts the amount of funding Pennsylvania will receive, so it is critical that we ensure the map is as accurate as possible.”
Individuals and businesses are encouraged to visit broadbandmap.fcc.gov and type in their address to check for services and to report any issues.
Any challenges to the map’s accuracy can be for the following reasons:
— A location that meets the FCC’s definition of a broadband serviceable location is missing from the map.
— A location’s broadband serviceability is incorrectly identified.
— Information such as the address or unit count for the location is incorrect.
— The location’s placement (its geographic coordinates) is incorrect.
Any inaccuracies (challenges) to the map must be completed by January 13, 2023.
Two ways to submit a challenge are by a single location or in bulk. The location challenge can be completed by individual consumers utilizing the map itself. Bulk challengers will be required to use the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) platform to submit information to the FCC.
For more information on submitting a challenge, visit help.bdc.fcc.gov.