The release of the National Broadband Map by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in February 2011 brought much attention to the issue of high speed Internet coverage across the United States.
At this year's National States Geographic Information Council meeting the issue continues as a highly important issue for states that must support the federal government's effort to map coverage areas and secure the infrastructure to facilitate emergency response and management.
Michael Byrne, the FCC's Geographic Information Officer (GIO), addressed the meeting's attendees to discuss the complexity of mapping Exchange and Study area boundaries and their relationship to Incumbent Local Exchange Centers (ILEC). The FCC released an order in November 2012 adopting rules for collection of study area boundary data from ILECs. The order allows state commissions or state telecommunication associations to voluntarily submit data on behalf of any or all ILECs.
Bill Johnson, Deputy Director of New York State's Office of Cyber Security & Critical Infrastructure Coordination discussed a $25 Million broadband map program for his state to understand what areas of the state are underserved or not served at all. The state has set a speed threshold whereby an area not currently getting 6 Mbits/second or slower would be considered underserved. Grants will be provided to serve these areas and providers will be allowed to see where the applications for grants would be issued in particular to make certain that these areas are not already serviced by other providers.
Joy Paulus of Washington State's Broadband Office
discussed how broadband is impacting economic revitalization. She remarked that broadband mapping is vitally important for urban growth management and rural community development.
Bert Granberg, Director at Utah Automated Geographic Reference Center discussed leveraging the state's broadband data
for public safety applications and its importance as an economic driver. Granberg remarked how broadband's near ubiquity should be treated just like other critical infrastructure assets like electricity and telephone.