The Up-to-date Broadband Map of the United States finally begins FCC

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Graphic: Federal Communications Commission – This interactive tool uses data from Verizon, T-Mobile and other major operators.

Finally, a new, modern mobile broadband coverage map has been published by the Federal Communications Committee to provide the consumers with a much-needed tool to find out what cell coverage in a given area in the US they can expect.

It shows 4G LTE broadband data and mobile voice coverage from the four largest carriers across the country: AT&T, T-Mobile, UScellular and Verizon. As of 15 May 2021, the FCC reported in a Friday press release that the data are accurate. The users can compare all information in a single place and differentiate between data availability and voice availability in overlaying coverage maps for different carriers.

“This is the first public map that shows updated FCC mobile coverage and represents significant improvements in comparison to other previously published data from the agency,” said the agency, adding that “it would improve the standardization and consistency of FCC data collected for broadband availability.”

However, it should be noted that the FCC also stated that it has created a map with the data provided voluntarily by the previous companies, which don’t have a long history of reporting their coverage correctly. Not the only problem is glaring. The tool doesn’t address the scope of internet internet access, a major concern about the so-called digital divide or the gap between people who have access to an affordable, reliable and unstable internet service. The 5G build-ups of every carrier are not as well reflected.

What speeds can users expect from each network is also missing. In a note about the launch of a tool, acting FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said that a network must deliver at least 5Mbps download rates and 1Mbps upload speeds to qualify as a 4G data coverage. At present, however, there is no way of saying on the map if the coverage of the carrier in any certain area squeaks over or overtakes these benchmarks more than once.

It’s therefore only a step forward, but barely, and a long time overdue one. The law which initiated the creation of this map, the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act, last year, required the FCC to improve their broadband accessibility maps’ accuracy, because conflicting, outdated data have hindered its efforts over years to bridge the digital divide. The agency has been ordered, inter alia, to compile and release robust data on wired, fixed-wired and satellite broadband suppliers and to set up a crowd-sourcement process to collect public information.

Now that the tool is alive, the FCC said on Friday that crowdfourcing is going to take place more. After some final test processes are completed, consumers and the government and local authorities will be able to “provide information informed by experience in the real world” to improve the accuracy of the tool in the long term.

Rosenworcel said in the press release: “A good map is one that changes over the course of time. “The new map today represents progress in the implementation of the Broadband DATA Act and the creation of next-generation broadband maps which will enable 100% American citizens to connect. We can provide better information about where and where broadband is service throughout the country using improved systems and data.”

Rosenworcel stated in her note that this map is the ‘first in a series of efforts’ for consumers to understand network coverage across the country more clearly.