State calls on Hoosiers to check federal internet funding map
Federal agencies have mapped how well the entire country has access to the Internet, and plan to use the map in a funding formula — but they need help fine-tuning it before a January deadline.
The Indiana Broadband Office is calling on everyday Hoosiers to put forward challenges on the map to get the state the full amount of broadband money and access it needs.
The broadband map from the Federal Communications Commission indicates that 98% of Indiana has access to minimum broadband speeds of 25 Mbps.
But other measurements show less coverage. In fact, an American Jobs Plan fact sheet published by the White House said that 12.4% of Hoosiers live in areas where, by one definition, there is no broadband infrastructure that provides minimally acceptable speeds. And 48.4% of Hoosiers live in areas where there is only one such provider. Even where infrastructure is available, broadband can be too expensive to be within reach.
There has been an effort, including by the FCC, to abandon the older and slower standard in favor of one better suited to modern Internet requirements: 100 Mbps. About 86% of the state has access to that speed, it claims.
But the map’s numbers are likely overestimates — and Indiana wants you to help check them before a Jan. 13 deadline. Small variations at a hyper-local level can add up across a state.
This is because there is money in the mix.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration The Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program is worth $42.45 billion, and is intended to expand high-speed Internet access across the country.
The map is a starting point for the federal agencies to calculate how much broadband funding Indiana will get.
“If the full extent of unserved locations in a state is not reflected on the map by then, that state may not receive its full share of funding,” the broadband office warned in a news release.
How is your internet really doing?
Hoosiers can look up a specific address on the FCC’s dedicated page and see if it reflects reality.
There are two ways to challenge the card for a specific address: based on location or availability.
For location, an address is missing or inaccurately included.
The broadband office said Hoosiers can make sure their homes and businesses are included on the map, that they are in the right location, that the number of units is correct and that they are correctly marked as serviceable or not.
For availability, an Internet service provider did not report accurate information about a specific address.
The Broadband Office said residents could face challenges if a provider refuses a request for service, charges “excessive” fees for service or fails to schedule service installation within 10 business days of a request.
Providers must review those challenges and concede or deny them. If they concede or lose the challenge, that address will appear as unavailable on the maps.
States will open sub-grant programs for their share of the funding in late 2023 or early 2024.
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