NTIA Partners With States on New Broadband Maps

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration said it is collaborating with eight states to update and expand its national broadband availability map.

The FCC has been keeping up with the map since NTIA turned it over to the commission when its broadband stimulus funding money ran out. But responsibility was returned to the NTIA, the White House's chief telecom policy adviser, in a 2018 appropriations bill amidst criticisms of the FCC maps.

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The states pitching in are California, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, Utah and West Virginia.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W. Va.) has been among the most vocal critics of the maps, saying they do not accurately reflect where broadband is, or more importantly, isn't in his states. The maps are used to target government broadband subsidies for broadband buildouts in unserved or underserved areas, though Republicans and Democrats are generally split over whether it should be confined to undserved (Republicans) or underserved, where there is at least the possibility of overbuilding existing service, depending on how underserved is defined.

"The initial eight state partners {NTIA expects to add other states] were chosen because they reflect geographic diversity, participate in NTIA’s State Broadband Leaders Network, have active state broadband plans or programs, and were willing to contribute data that can be combined with nationwide data sources to give policymakers a deeper understanding of broadband availability," NTIA said.

In order to ensure that all Americans have access to broadband, we need a more precise picture of the current services and infrastructure that are available,” said NTIA head David Redl.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.