Broadband mapping efforts have been taking place across the country for some time now. Most of the maps within the United States are driven by data that is submitted to states or the Federal Communications Commission. The data is provided by internet service providers and typically compiled at census block level. At this level, the data doesn’t really give a more granular picture of the locations served.
Mapping current broadband coverage provides citizens and communities necessary information for understanding where and what types of coverage they can expect to find in their community. This way, businesses and citizens can make important decisions about their location as it relates to their internet speed needs.
It also benefits communities and citizens who are seeking to expand coverage by providing a baseline metric to measure progress and pinpointing unserved areas so citizens and communities can aggregate demand and request service from providers. Additionally, certain federal grant and loan programs rely on this data for determining eligibility.
Our office recently announced a new mapping initiative that will add another data source to improve the location of service–user reported data. The hope is that we will be able to identify more of the pockets of unserved and underserved areas around the state.
But that is not the only benefit to mapping broadband coverage.
Types of Technology
Another benefit that comes from mapping broadband coverage is that it allows a better understanding of what types of technology are available.
Not all types of broadband technology are available in all communities across North Carolina. So, knowing which types are available, such as mobile, fiber or cable, can help North Carolina families and businesses make decisions about which provider they will subscribe with as well as what is in their area.
Planning for the Future
As maps begin to show more and more about the underserved or unserved areas, you begin to get a picture that allows for an understanding for future development.
In most cases, we see that highly populated areas of the state have, generally, the highest speeds and that gradient of coverage and speed changes dramatically as we move toward our more rural areas.
Mapped data showing which areas in their community is served and which are unserved are important for community leaders to have access. This information can be an invaluable resource in helping them better understand the current state of broadband availability in their community and surrounding areas and plan.
Communities can use the data and maps as a key component while designing a broadband plan to expand broadband availability, adoption and use in their community.
Benchmarking Progress in Infrastructure Availability and Adoption
As you see the changes in maps overtime, broadband leaders can identify the progress in their community in terms of both availability and adoption and in many cases, the presence of one impacts the other.
Having more information that shows progressive development of either allows communities to strategize and plan their local plan to accommodate for those needs.
Another benefit to watching progress and trends is that you may be able to identify less than ideal trends that are happening naturally and help you begin to sway some of those trends in a different direction. For example, if there were a concentrated expansion of fiber infrastructure in urban areas and little to none in rural areas.
When your community is building your broadband plan, having as much information as possible can be critical. Collecting information and then compiling it into a localized map that you can use to develop a strategy that works for you, locally, can be a valuable tool in making sure that you have all your bases covered.
Stay tune to our blog, our Twitter account and our emails for more information as we move closer to the launch of our new mapping initiative.