The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) announced the launch of a new map showing nationwide mobile coverage and availability data from the largest wireless providers.
The FCC said the new map “represents a significant improvement over other data previously published by the agency.” The commissions said the map also serves as a public test of the standardized criteria developed to facilitate improved mapping under the Broadband DATA Act.
The Broadband DATA Act, signed into law in March of last year, requires the FCC to issue new rules to require the collection and dissemination of granular broadband availability data and to establish a process to verify the data’s accuracy. The law also makes it illegal for individuals or companies to “willfully and knowingly, or recklessly” submit inaccurate or incomplete information about the availability or quality of broadband internet access.
“A good map is one that changes over time,” said Acting FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “Today’s new map represents progress in our efforts to implement the Broadband DATA Act and build next-generation broadband maps that can help to connect 100 percent of Americans. Using improved systems and data, we can provide better information about where broadband service is and is not across the country.”
FCC described the map as “first of its kind” and said it provides a preview of how the mobile data the FCC will collect under the standards set by the Broadband DATA Act will look when mapped. The new map will improve the uniformity and consistency of broadband availability data collected by the FCC.
Consumers will be able to search the map by specific address to understand whether they should be able to make or receive voice calls or use wireless data. The data is accurate as of May 15, 2021, and the map includes data from the four largest mobile carriers – AT&T, USCellular, T-Mobile, and Verizon. The carriers voluntarily submitted their data outside of the FCC’s normal schedule for intake of data. FCC noted that if other companies are interested in submitting data, they can contact the Broadband Data Task Force to begin the process.
In the near future, the FCC said state, local, and Tribal authorities and consumers will be able to submit input based on their real-world experience to improve data accuracy.