Broadband coverage maps are not always accurate, experts say

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WASHINGTON D.C. (WEHT) – In many parts of the country, broadband coverage maps are flat out wrong.

Lynn Follansbee with USTelecom said the first-of-its kind pilot program found significant flaws in current broadband maps.

“In Virginia, for example, we found that the census block location counts were inaccurate about 50% of the time,” Follansbee said.

That’s preventing communities from getting the necessary funding to improve service.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said his agency uses the maps to distribute funding.

“If an entire census block is considered served when only one house actually gets broadband, that doesn’t do anyone any favors,” said Pai.

Earlier this month, the FCC approved changes to the way it determines where money goes for broadband service, including upgrades to data collection systems.

Pai said crowdsourcing will be included so consumers can let officials know if maps are inaccurate.

In addition, Pai said the FCC is working with federal, state, and local lawmakers and other stakeholders on legislation to improve the accuracy of the maps.

Follansbee said she believes their findings can provide a pathway to finding solutions.

Lawmakers said closing the digital divide is a top priority and they plan to have hearings on broadband mapping when they return in September.

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(This story was originally published on August 27, 2019)

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