Broadband maps are unreliable – even in Minnesota

Broadband Breakfast reports…

Broadband Breakfast Live Online panelists on Wednesday said that current broadband maps are insufficient and that they are harming the people they are meant to serve.

The forum was an opportunity for participants to describe the state of broadband in their respective areas as well as the applications of various services during the coronavirus pandemic.

Speakers included Glenn Fishbine, chief technology officer at NEO Partners, LLC, Eric Frederick, vice president for community affairs at Connected Nation, Brian Webster, CEO of Wireless Mapping Inc. and Russ Elliot, director of the Washington State Broadband Office.

The article include a map “showcasing areas in which Connected Nation had low confidence in broadband connectivity reports — which included almost all supposedly connected regions.” I’ve included it here and you can see what Minnesota looks like.

They used an example from Minnesota…

For example, a Minnesota broadband company called Radio Link Internet offers 300-megabyte symmetric wireless, which disqualifies areas under its service for grants. But a NEO Partners study found that Radio Link had not undergone an LTD speed test in the previous 12 months.

“We are seeing the impact of bad reporting by individual ISPs either because they’re clumsy or they don’t know what they’re doing or because the process is broken,” Fishbine said. “But this is taking a large number of communities out of the pool of potential grant applications.”

Webster said that for broadband maps to transition away from clunky inaccuracy, they have to move to the household level.

It’s hard to get good mapping. Broadband coverage changes almost daily. The ISP tends to report in broadband swaths, which can overstate coverage. Speed tests rely on so many moving pieces including broadband speed between the connection to the node, to the home and then the quality of the device. But these maps are important because eligibility for funding – for billions of dollars – is often based on mapping.

This entry was posted in Building Broadband Tools, MN, Policy and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (blandinonbroadband.org), hosts a radio show on MN music (mostlyminnesota.com), supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota (elimstrongtowershelters.org) and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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