EVENT Feb 16: ILSR’s Building for Digital Equity Returns

The Institute for Local Self Reliance reports

Save the date! ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks team is back for a second season of our Building for Digital Equity series.

You can register now here.

The free online live stream will be held on Feb. 16 from 2-3 pm CST/3-4 pm ET.

We will unpack how local communities are working with their states to challenge the FCC’s broadband maps, bringing together local stakeholders, policy advocates, and GIS and Data Visualization Specialists in one place. We will also cover local organizing for better broadband and the latest on the Affordable Connectivity Program (ACP).

Institute for Local Self Reliance parses out FCC maps and potential federal funding

The Institute for Local Self Reliance is keeping an eye on the local, state and national policies that impact access to broadband. This week, they took a look at the FCC Maps, which will have an influence on how much federal funding each state will get. My intention is to whet your appetite enough to have you read the whole article but here are the highest level points…

This article will explore what is going wrong with the distribution of that $42.5 billion, the mapping process, and continued failure of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to show competence in the broadband arena. And it offers ways to fix these important problems as every jurisdiction from Puerto Rico to Hawaii feels overwhelmed by the challenge.

The $42.5 billion guarantees each state $100 million and a large additional sum calculated proportionally based on the number of locations in each state that don’t have adequate high-speed Internet service. States that already made significant investments in better rural networks and made strides toward fast universal Internet access for all households – like Massachusetts – will likely not receive much more than $100 million, while extremely large states with many high-cost rural residents – like Texas and California – will receive billions.

The process is faulty…

To recap – the FCC is required to allow challenges to its data because of its history of inaccurate broadband claims. The FCC created a proprietary fabric with a hasty contract with Costquest Associates, trying to tackle an extremely difficult problem on a short timeline. States had an early shot to fix errors in the fabric, but at a time when many state offices were still seeking people to work in their broadband offices. The data only became publicly available after the deadline passed to fix what could be millions of omitted or incorrect locations, at which point the FCC and NTIA encouraged people to submit challenges (during the December holidays) to fix both the fabric and the overstated claims of availability.

The maps are faulty…

In a discussion about the current mapping process, Executive Director of the Precision Ag Connectivity Act Stakeholder Alliance Garland McCoy argued that the new maps are going to be the same as the old maps (around 45 min in). The maps continue to rely primarily on claims by ISPs regarding what they advertise to locations without any pricing information.

Here are some recommendations…

To ensure the $42.5 billion finally resolves the digital divide, both the FCC and NTIA need to change course. NTIA needs to use some flexibility in the BEAD program to push some initial money out to states while waiting on final estimates from FCC maps that better reflect reality. Both agencies should seriously explore how and why the confusion and misinformation conflating availability challenges with location challenges happened. To resolve the problems identified above, we recommend the following:

  • NTIA should not make final BEAD allocations using data from the current FCC data collection where only some states were able to offer fixes for their many missing locations.
  • The Senate should confirm Gigi Sohn and break the FCC deadlock.
  • The FCC must develop a data source about Internet access availability that reflects the actual service available to homes and businesses.
  • The FCC needs greater independence from the biggest cable and telecom companies.

  • States need to develop their own mapping capacity rather than relying solely on the FCC and to ensure they spend Internet access subsidies wisely.

Review Your Broadband Map to Improve Border-to-Border Access: from Office of Broadband Development

This is a guest post of sorts from By Bree Maki, Executive Director of the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Office of Broadband Development…

Recently, Governor Tim Walz announced that internet providers will receive nearly $100 million in funding to expand broadband coverage to more Minnesotans.  This largest-ever grant round is estimated to extend new high-speed internet connections to more than 33,000 Minnesota homes and businesses in 48 counties.

At the Department of Employment and Economic Development’s Office of Broadband Development, we’re working hard to get broadband to more Minnesotans who need it. Now, we need your help to make that a reality.

As part of the federal Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill, $65 billion in funding is available to states for broadband. We’re excited to implement the bill’s programs, but much of our funding relies on a new mapping project from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to show where broadband is and is not available.

The FCC is accepting challenges to their new map right now, and we encourage all Minnesotans to review the map to see if the broadband speeds shown to be available at their address are correct. Local review of the broadband maps is important, as residents know best if the mapping information is accurate. Minnesotans can go to broadbandmap.fcc.gov to review their map and provide feedback.

To review the map, type in your address. Your home should appear on the map along with a list of services that providers claim to have available for purchase at your location. If your location is missing or inaccurately reflected on the map, you can submit a location challenge to correct it. If the information about the service provided is incorrect, you can file an availability challenge. Detailed video instructions on how to file a challenge can be found at fcc.gov/BroadbandData/consumers.

Our goal is border-to-border broadband coverage across Minnesota. Future federal funding will be allotted based on the number of locations in Minnesota that do not have broadband services available right now. To ensure valid challenges are incorporated into the map before federal funding allocations are made, Minnesotans have until Jan. 13, 2023 to submit feedback.

This year, between 240,000 and 291,000 households in Minnesota lacked access to high-speed broadband. So much of what we do happens online, which is why we want to ensure all Minnesotans have access to high-speed internet.

All Minnesotans deserve equal access to high-speed broadband. If you have any questions, please reach out to the Office of Broadband at 651-259-7610 or deed.broadband@state.mn.us

Broadband maps to include maternal health data?

From the world of “that’s interesting”

Senate agreed to House amendment (12/13/2022)

Data Mapping to Save Moms’ Lives Act

This bill directs the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to include data on maternal mortality and severe maternal morbidity in its broadband health mapping tool. This is an online platform that allows users to visualize, overlay, and analyze broadband and health data at national, state, and county levels.

The FCC must consult with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention regarding the data to incorporate into the tool.

Carver County MN encourages residents to report inaccuracies on FCC broadband map

Carver County is asking local residents to check their addresses on FCC map…

Carver County residents lacking access to high-speed internet service need to check the accuracy of Federal Communications Commission maps to ensure future Federal funding of broadband projects to the County.

The Federal government has pledged between $40-60 billion in funding nationwide, basing its award formula on current maps. Those maps, County officials discovered, often aren’t accurate in terms of County locations without high-speed service or mistaken about the actual service and speeds available to customers.

County residents and business should visit the FCC website, where they can check the FCC’s information regarding high-speed internet availability and listed providers. If the information proves inaccurate, users should use the accompanying form to report the inaccurate information to the FCC. Providing accurate information bolsters the County’s chances at receiving more Federal dollars to support current broadband projects through more accurate maps.

“Making sure the FCC’s maps contain accurate information for Carver County helps ensure we receive our fair share of Federal funding in support of all County locations having high-speed internet access,” said Gayle Degler, Carver County Board of Commissioner’s chair and District 1 representative.

“We know the importance of high-speed internet access for all our residences and businesses for work-from-home opportunities, educational needs, and small business support,” said Commissioner John P. Fahey, who represents District 5, covering the majority of the western portion of the County, which are primarily rural. “Having this access in our smaller communities and Townships gives people greater choices in where to live, where to locate small businesses, and encourages growth across the County.”

These submissions are due by Jan. 13, 2023. The Federal program’s allocations are scheduled to begin disbursement in 2023 and beyond. The County likely would use any funding in similar fashion as its Connect Up Carver Initiative by partnering with private service providers to bring the actual access to residents and businesses, leveraging the County’s CarverLink network.

Consumer Reports on the FCC Broadband maps and how you can make them better

I’ve written about the maps before, but with a deadline of Jan 13, 2023 to comment on them, I figure it’s worth speaking again. Consumer Reports recognizes the inaccuracies and tells readers how to report when their address appears to have wrong broadband info…

A few weeks ago, the Federal Communications Commission released a new national broadband map, which is supposed to help consumers see their options for internet service. Just as important, the map will be used to help determine where some $42.5 billion in federal funds will go to build out better access in places where high-speed, affordable broadband is lacking.

The map has quickly become a battleground for states, including Colorado, New York, and Vermont, which say it doesn’t accurately reflect how many of their citizens lack fast access to the internet. If the FCC map understates the problem, state officials say, they won’t get the funding needed to address the problem.

Despite arguments over the new FCC map, it’s widely acknowledged to be more accurate than the previous version. To judge for yourself, you can plug in your address—and let the FCC know if you find an inaccuracy.

They recognize that the maps mean money…

The new funding was allocated by last year’s Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, which set up the Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) Program to help more Americans get online. An agency called the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) will distribute funds to states based on how many of their residents lack broadband access.

The money could go to big internet service providers such as Comcast or Spectrum to help them build out connections to new neighborhoods and homes, but it can also be directed to smaller providers, private/public partnerships, and cooperatives, including municipal broadband projects. Any project that receives money from the states will be required to provide an affordable option for low-income households.

How you can help make the maps better…

The information in the map is being provided by internet service providers. To see if you agree with what they’ve told the FCC, you can check the FCC national broadband map yourself. Type in your address and the national map will zoom in to your neighborhood, which will be covered with locations with green dots, one for each location where internet service is available. Click on your home, and you’ll see the various options for service.

Challenges can be made on two fronts—address accuracy and service availability. If your address doesn’t appear, you can click on “challenge location.” You can also submit a challenge if the map says a company offers service at your location, but it really doesn’t. Click the “availability challenge” button in the same box. That will bring up a form where you can challenge the information.

Scroll down, complete the form, and choose the reason for your challenge from the drop-down list. You can upload files— screenshots, photos, and emails—that support your challenge. You can also write a description of your experience in the form. Once you hit “submit” your claim will be reviewed by the FCC. If accepted, the agency will pass it on to the internet provider. If the ISP disagrees with you, it will contact you and try to resolve the issue. If the issue can’t be resolved, the FCC will decide who’s right—and if you win the challenge, the ISP has to update its availability data on the map within 30 days of the decision.

The FCC’s new online help center is available to provide assistance with the process.

Need help challenging the FCC maps to ensure funding comes to MN? ILSR can help.

I’ve written about the importance the FCC maps. They will be used to determine where funding will be invested for improved broadband. People are invited to visit the maps to check the veracity of their marked level of broadband. If they find inaccuracies, they are asked to report them. Or whole communities can report locations. But the maps have been found to be tricky. TO help, the Institute for Local Self Reliance has come up with a step-by-step guide to help folks…

In an effort to provide a better understanding of the map itself, and the challenge process, we created a short series of instructional videos and a click-through guide. Through the videos we provide:

  • An overview of the map itself, important features to be aware of, and how to navigate the map interface.
  • Walk-through of the location challenge process (The deadline for submitting location challenges is Jan. 13, 2023).
  • Walk-through of the broadband availability challenge process (i.e., issues with claims of availability in the map made by Internet service providers).

The challenge guide is in pdf format and was designed to allow users to click links to navigate to the resources they need. Similar to information shared in the videos (below), this resource includes instructions for both the location and availability challenges, as well as more detailed information about valid reasons for submitting those challenges.

We also include a timeline of the availability challenge process, and links to FCC resources for those interested in submitting a bulk challenge. You can find the challenge guide here.

Criticisms of the new FCC Broadband maps and challenge process

GNC reports on public reaction to the new FCC broadband maps…

Just days after the Federal Communications Commission released an initial draft of a national map showing the availability of broadband internet, some groups are criticizing what they see as the map’s shortcomings.

A letter from open internet nonprofit Public Knowledge dated Nov. 22 called for various improvements to the FCC’s mapping process, which it said had some “inaccuracies.”

Public Knowledge said the procedures for states, local communities and even individuals to challenge the broadband availability map needs to be clarified, as many stakeholders expressed “confusion” over the challenge process. The group also said that the FCC should better explain how it would use local challenges against speeds, if the reported speed on the map is not actually offered by internet service providers.

The organization questioned the satellite broadband availability data, which it said “misleadingly indicates that the vast majority of the country is served.” Instead, Public Knowledge said the FCC should update its maps to provide a “more realistic picture of broadband availability.” While satellite internet has shown promise, the nonprofit said, in practice satellite providers cannot serve most locations in the country with broadband.

Additionally, community institutions like schools and libraries were left off the FCC’s maps of residential service, Public Knowledge said. The FCC apparently assumed that those buildings receive commercial broadband service, when, in fact, many anchor institutions use residential service and should be included in the map.

These criticisms align with what I’m hearing from folks on the frontlines in Minnesota.

Will BEAD fund unlicensed spectrum? Good question and it will matter in Minnesota!

So many posts about the FCC maps and funding and details because the details will impact how much money communities will receive for broadband in the next few years. The issue this post – unlicensed spectrum versus licensed spectrum. Telecompetitor reports

The BEAD program is designed to cover some of the costs of deploying broadband to unserved rural areas. In establishing rules for the program, NTIA omitted fixed wireless service that relies totally on unlicensed spectrum for last mile connectivity from its definition of reliable service – a decision that impacts the BEAD program in two ways.

It makes FWA deployments using unlicensed spectrum ineligible for funding. And it makes areas that have high-speed broadband eligible for overbuilds if the only high-speed broadband available is FWA that relies on unlicensed spectrum.

But some folks want that changed…

Seven U.S. senators sent a letter to Alan Davidson, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, today urging NTIA to revise its definition of reliable broadband for the Broadband Equity Access and Deployment (BEAD) program.

So what’s the difference between licensed and unlicensed spectrums?

Here’s a definition from IotaComm. I was hoping for a less commercial perspective but also high level enough to take in easily.

Most of the radio spectrum is licensed by the FCC to certain users, for example, television and radio broadcasters. Individual companies pay a licensing fee for the exclusive right to transmit on an assigned frequency within a certain geographical area. In exchange, those users can be assured that nothing will interfere with their transmission.

Alternatively, organizations can still use the airwaves to transmit communications without getting permission from the FCC, but they must transmit within those parts of the spectrum that are designated for unlicensed users. The amount of spectrum that is available for public and unlicensed use is very small—only a few bands. Both the size of the area and the lack of exclusivity mean there’s greater potential for interference from other users located nearby. (It’s like the “wild west” of radio communication.)

The Telecompetitor article touches on it a little…

NTIA hasn’t said much about why it defined reliable broadband as it did. But David Zumwalt, CEO of the Wireless Internet Service Providers Association (WISPA) told Telecompetitor a few months ago that NTIA’s primary concern was the future availability of unlicensed spectrum.

WISPA is particularly concerned about whether areas that already have unlicensed high-speed FWA will be eligible for overbuilding through the BEAD program, as many WISPA members already have made high-speed FWA deployments that rely on unlicensed spectrum.

Folks in Minnesota may have a special interest in this issue. According to the FCC map, LTD Broadband is serving a large portion Southern Minnesota with unlicensed spectrum, as the map below indicates.

According to new FCC map Minnesota has ubiquitous broadband at 25/3 – hmm

I have good news and bad news. According to new FCC map, Minnesota has ubiquitous broadband at speeds of 25 Mbps down and 3 Mbps up. It’s good news if it’s true. It’s bad news if it’s not true and we lose out on federal broadband funding because the maps were wrong. According to maps from the Office of Broadband Development, the FCC maps are wrong. The areas shown in pink in the map below (on the right) do not have broadband at 25/3.

If you live in one of these areas, check out the map and report a location challenge if you think they FCC map is wrong. Once you look up your address, you’ll see the where to make a location challenge on the website.

If you are a community leader or a (potential?) provider in the area, you might think about how to get your neighbors to report overrepresentation or think about attending the tutorial from the FCC on how to file bulk challenges to the FCC’s broadband map on November 30.

FCC unveils pre-production broadband maps and speed test – try them out!

According to an FCC press release

The Federal Communications Commission today released a pre-production draft of its new National Broadband Map.  The map will display specific location-level information about broadband services available throughout the country – a significant step forward from the census block level data previously collected.  This release of the draft map kicks off the public challenge processes that will play a critical role in improving the accuracy of the map.  An accurate map is an important resource for targeting funding and other efforts to bring broadband to unserved and underserved communities.

“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.  “Our pre-production draft maps are a first step in a long-term effort to continuously improve our data as consumers, providers and others share information with us.  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.”

The public will be able to view the maps at broadbandmap.fcc.gov and search for their address to see information about the fixed and mobile services that internet providers report are available there.  If the fixed internet services shown are not available at the user’s location, they may file a challenge with the FCC directly through the map interface to correct the information.  Map users will also be able correct information about their location and add their location to the map if it is missing.  The draft map will also allow users to view the mobile wireless coverage reported by cellular service providers.

The FCC today also announced the launch of an updated version of the FCC Speed Test App that will enable users to quickly compare the performance and coverage of their mobile networks to that reported by their provider.  The app allows users to submit their mobile speed test data in support of a challenge to a wireless service provider’s claimed coverage.  New users can download the FCC Speed Test App in both the Apple App Store and Google Play Store.  Existing app users should update the app to gain these new features.

A video tutorial and more information on how to submit challenges is available at fcc.gov/BroadbandData/consumers.

For more information about the BDC, please visit the Broadband Data Collection website at fcc.gov/BroadbandData.

I found an interesting perspective from Christopher Terry, a professor at the University of Minnesota

“More than 4,600 days after the Federal Communications Commission launched its National Broadband Plan, the agency is finally trying to correct its shortcomings of the last decade by more accurately mapping broadband deployment. The updated data will be used to make grants intended to resolve the digital divide across Minnesota in urban, rural and even Tribal areas. This is the agency’s last chance to achieve universal broadband deployment, and the success or failure of the FCC will have long term impacts on Minnesota’s economy.”

FCC will unveil draft broadband maps and NTIA clock on BEAD allocation to start

Something to look forward to next week – new broadband maps – as the FCC reports

The Federal Communications Commission today announced that it will unveil a pre-production draft of new broadband maps on November 18, 2022. This version is the first release of the map required by the Broadband DATA Act and will begin an ongoing, iterative process that will improve the data submitted by providers by incorporating challenges from individuals and other stakeholders.

Broadband availability will be based on data submitted by providers during the initial Broadband Data Collection filing window and will reflect services available as of June 30, 2022. When published, the draft maps will display location level information on broadband availability throughout the country and will allow people to search for their address, and review and dispute the services reported by providers at their location.

The FCC will also accept bulk challenges to the reported availability data from state and Tribal governments and other entities. As a result, this map will continually improve and refine the broadband availability data relied upon by the FCC, other government agencies, and the public. The pre-production draft map release is an important first step forward in building more accurate, more granular broadband maps, which are long overdue and mandated by Congress. Historically, the FCC’s maps have been based on broadband availability data collected at just the census block level rather than the location level, which kept unserved locations hidden if they were in partially served census blocks.

To generate this version of the map, providers’ availability data has been matched to the location information contained in the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (Fabric). The Fabric is a common dataset of all locations in the United States where fixed broadband internet access service is or can be installed. To improve the accuracy of the FCC maps, the Commission began accepting challenges to Fabric information from providers, states, local and Tribal governments starting in September. Once the draft maps launch, individuals will also be able to submit challenges, or request corrections, to Fabric locations directly through the map interface. They will also be able to request missing locations be added. Information from those challenges will be incorporated in future versions of the Fabric.

For more information about the BDC, please visit the Broadband Data Collection website at https://www.fcc.gov/BroadbandData.

And once that happens, the NTIA (National Telecommunications and Information Association) reports…

Following the Federal Communications Commission’s announcement that on November 18 it will unveil an initial version of new broadband maps and open the mapping challenge process, NTIA expects to communicate Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment allocation levels to eligible entities by June 30th.

“The next eight weeks are critical for our federal efforts to connect the unconnected,” said Alan Davidson, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information. “The FCC’s upcoming challenge process is one of the best chances to ensure that we have accurate maps guiding us as we allocate major Internet for All awards in 2023. I urge every state and community that believes it can offer improvements to be part of this process so that we can deliver on the promise of affordable, reliable high-speed Internet service for everyone in America.”

The Biden-Harris Administration is required by law to allocate Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment funds according to a formula derived from the map data. NTIA coordinates closely with the FCC to ensure that this data is accurate and reliable and will continue to do so. NTIA’s efforts to date include:

  • Calling every single Internet Service Provider (ISP) in the United States to remind them of their obligations relating to the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) process, register any concerns or technical assistance requests, and relay those to the FCC;
  • Engaging in sustained outreach with Governors’ offices, state broadband offices, and stakeholder communities to share technical assistance resources, solicit feedback, and relay major areas of concern; and
  • Producing and sharing materials to break down the process with key dates and deadlines for affected stakeholders.

NTIA will engage in a comprehensive outreach effort to support the FCC in its efforts to ensure that every state that wishes to file a challenge can do so. This effort will include:

  • Technical assistance to state broadband officials and governors’ offices as they prepare challenges;
  • Webinars for members of the public wishing to learn more about how to participate in the challenge process;
  • Regular engagement with state officials to identify and resolve issues.

Internet for All

The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law includes a historic $65 billion investment to expand affordable and reliable high-speed Internet access in communities across the U.S. NTIA recently launched a series of new high-speed Internet grant programs funded by the law that will build high-speed Internet infrastructure across the country, create more low-cost high-speed Internet service options, and address the digital equity and inclusion needs in our communities.

Additionally, the Federal Communications Commission’s Affordable Connectivity Program provides a discount of up to $30 per month toward high-speed Internet service for eligible households and up to $75 per month for households on qualifying Tribal lands. Visit getinternet.gov for more information.

For more information on the Biden-Harris Administration’s high-speed Internet programs as well as quotes from the awardees, please visit InternetforAll.gov.

EVENT Sep 7: Webinar on how to Challenge National Broadband maps

The FCC reports…

By this Public Notice, the Broadband Data Task Force (Task Force), together with the Wireline Competition Bureau (WCB) and Office of Economics and Analytics (OEA), announce that as of September 12, 2022, state, local, and Tribal governments, service providers, and other entities can begin to file bulk challenges to data in the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (Fabric),1 which serves as the foundation for the Broadband Data Collection (BDC) fixed availability maps. We also announce that we will host a webinar on September 7, 2022, at 2 p.m. EDT, to assist state, local, and Tribal governments, service providers, and other entities who intend to submit bulk challenges, or proposed corrections, to the location data in the Fabric. The virtual event will stream on www.fcc.gov/live and the Commission’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/FCC and will provide an overview of Fabric challenges and a walkthrough of the BDC system’s bulk Fabric challenge submission process.

The Fabric is a common dataset of all locations in the United States where fixed broadband Internet access service is or can be installed.2 The Broadband DATA Act3 required the Commission to issue rules establishing the Fabric, which will, among other things, serve as the foundation on which all data relating to the availability of fixed broadband Internet access service will be reported and overlaid.4 The Commission adopted the Fabric and the basic elements required by the Broadband DATA Act in the Second Report and Order5 and further refined key definitions for the Fabric (and established the Fabric challenge process) in the Third Report and Order. 6 Specifically, the Commission adopted a definition of a “location” for purposes of the Fabric, as well as definitions for “residential location” and “business location,” and delegated responsibility to OEA, in consultation with WCB, to ensure that locations reflect broadband serviceability to the extent OEA and WCB are able to make determinations given the data available.7 The Task Force, OEA, and WCB subsequently provided details on the methods for identifying structures that constitute broadband serviceable locations (BSLs) in the Fabric.8 Fixed broadband service providers that report their broadband availability data using a list of locations must report their service availability based on the location data in the Fabric.9 On June 23, 2022, the Task Force, WCB, and OEA made the production version of the Fabric available to fixed broadband service providers and state, local and Tribal government entities.

Starting on September 12, 2022, governmental entities, broadband service providers, and other entities that have obtained Fabric data using the process set forth in prior public notices11 may submit bulk challenges to the Fabric data in the BDC system. These stakeholders are uniquely positioned to provide early feedback on a large number of locations included in the Fabric data, which will help to refine the next version of the Fabric expected to be released in December. The Task Force, OEA, and WCB previously issued detailed data specifications for formatting and submitting bulk Fabric challenges in the BDC system.12 Once the BDC broadband maps are published later this year, members of the public will be able to view the maps and submit online challenges to the Fabric data associated with an individual location using the map interface.

We remind governments, service providers, and other entities and organizations planning to submit challenges that the Fabric is intended to identify BSLs as defined by the Commission,13 which will not necessarily include all structures at a particular location or parcel. We therefore urge potential challengers to familiarize themselves with the Commission’s definition of BSLs and the additional guidance provided in the Bulk Fabric Challenge Specs Public Notice where we describe some of the characteristics of BSLs so that challengers will be able to align their data with the Fabric location data to determine where BSLs may be missing or mischaracterized. We also reiterate that bulk Fabric challenges must conform to the specifications set forth in the Data Specifications for Bulk Fabric Challenge Data. 14 The challenge data must include, among other things, the name and contact information of the submitting entity, the Fabric location subject to challenge, the category of the challenge for each location, and evidence supporting the challenge.15 Each bulk Fabric challenge data file must include records for each location being challenged in a Comma Separated Value (CSV) format, all fields must be included in the file upload, and all values must conform to the descriptions, codes, or formats identified for each field in the Data Specifications for Bulk Fabric Challenge Data. 16 Bulk Fabric challengers also must certify that the information they submit is true and correct (to the best of their actual knowledge, information, and belief) for each location that is part of the bulk challenge.

The September 7 webinar will be streamed live at both www.fcc.gov/live and on the Commission’s YouTube page at www.youtube.com/FCC beginning at 2 p.m. EDT. A recording of the webinar will be posted to the Commission’s BDC webpage at www.fcc.gov/BroadbandData and on the Commission’s YouTube page. The event will include time for questions and answers, and questions may be submitted in advance of or during the workshop at BDCwebinar@fcc.gov.

Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities are available on request. Please include a description of the accommodation you will need and tell us how to contact you if we need more information. Make your request as early as possible. Last-minute requests will be accepted, but may not be possible to fulfill. Send an e-mail to FCC504@fcc.gov or call the Consumer & Governmental Affairs Bureau at 202-418-0530 (voice).

The Commission also has made available on the BDC Help Center site at www.fcc.gov/BroadbandData/Help additional technical assistance materials for filing challenges to Fabric data, including the Data Specifications for Bulk Fabric Challenge Data (which sets forth the requirements for filing bulk challenges to BSL data in the Fabric), Fabric FAQs, and a bulk Fabric challenge data matrix, among other resources.

EVENT Aug 17 2pm CST: Webinar on Microsoft Airband’s Digital Equity Data Dashboard

An invitation for a tool I wrote about earlier that I think is fascinating. I hope to attend…

Join the SF Tech Council this Wednesday (8/17), noon-1pm (Pacific) to learn about Microsoft Airband’s Digital Equity Data Dashboard, a public-facing tool that combines Census Bureau, Federal Communications Commission, BroadbandNow, and Microsoft’s broadband usage data (e.g., upload / download speed data) census tract-by-census tract at state and county levels.


Here is the Zoom link to the meeting:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85258884100?pwd=RHgzdUFEcFBOdUcwMkIvS24rd3Bmdz09

The dashboard’s practical value is that it provides a unified view of data from several different sources that allows policymakers and community organizations to make data-driven decisions to address drivers of digital inequities in communities.

Maile Martinez, Program Manager, Airband US, and Tammy Glazer, Microsoft AI for Good Data Lab, will demo dashboard features to illustrate how local organizations can get best use out of it (e.g., proposals), including what the data tells us about underserved San Francisco neighborhoods. They are also looking for feedback and suggestions for how this tool can serve YOUR organization better in your work to address digital inequities in San Francisco.

Microsoft makes searchable digital equity map available online

Microsoft on the Issues reports…

We often say that you can’t fix a problem you don’t understand. Today, Microsoft is releasing a new Digital Equity Data Dashboard to help create better understanding of the economic opportunity gaps in towns, cities and neighborhoods across the United States. The new tool was developed by our Chief Data Science Officer Juan Lavista Ferres and the Microsoft AI for Good Lab, and aggregates public data from the Census Bureau, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), BroadbandNow and Microsoft’s own Broadband Usage Data. It goes census tract-by-census tract, examining 20 different indicators of digital equity – such as broadband access, usage, education and poverty rates – to create one of the most complete pictures of digital equity in these areas to date.

Access the dashboard here