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NTIA (Sort of) Unveils Pilot Broadband Availability Map

The Trump Administration's chief communications policy arm says it has completed a pilot version of the updated National Broadband Availability Map Congress directed it to produce. It is not available for public perusal, though NTIA did provide the above graphic showing the states participating in the pilot. 

The National Telecommunications & Information Administration, part of the Commerce Department, says it will use the pilot to "test the map’s functionality and expand it to other states." 

But NTIA suggested "map" does not do it justice, calling it a "GIS (geographic information system) platform for the visualization and comparison [of various data sets]." 

Congress provided funds for the update, which was done in coordination with the FCC.  

Legislators on both sides of the aisle have complained about FCC data that shows broadband where it isn't. 

The pilot includes data from eight states--California, Massachusetts, Maine, Minnesota, North Carolina, Tennessee, West Virginia, and Utah--as well as federal and commercially available broadband availability data. 

The FCC has its own fixed broadband deployment map, but NTIA says its "map" goes beyond that "form 477" data on fixed broadband deployment--data supplied by carriers--to other data sets--federal and non-federal, with more to be added.  

FCC chair Ajit Pai has acknowledged the need for better tools to collect data about broadband deployment and to improve the current Form 477 reporting process. 

The NTIA map is not available to the public because it includes competitively sensitive non-public data, but eventually a public and non-public version of the final product will be provided. 

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.