You Can Finally Spot Internet Coverage Gaps With The FCC’s Broadband Maps

Don’t know if your area has broadband internet or 5G yet? Today, the Federal Communications Commission released new broadband maps showing where high-speed internet access and mobile 5G service is available across the US.

The FCC’s prior coverage maps had been inaccurate, showing that Americans should have been able to get online with higher speeds when they weren’t covered by internet service providers. Or if they were, they were getting far below the 25 Mbps download speed threshold that the FCC established to be considered broadband internet. With these new maps, Americans can see internet speeds they can get at any street address in the country.

“These maps provide the best picture available to date of where broadband is and is not available across the country, and the maps will only get better from here,” FCC Chair Jessica Rosenworcel said in a release on Friday.

The maps represent a significant tool to bridge the digital divide, allowing the government, companies and consumers to better locate gaps in coverage and address them. The lack of equal access to internet services has been a problem the US has wrestled with for years, one that the pandemic and ensuing lockdown exacerbated.

Thanks to the Broadband DATA Act, which allocates $65 billion to improve Americans’ broadband access, the FCC must release maps showing where Americans can get wired internet access. They’ll be updated roughly every six months with new data from ISPs and carriers, and individuals can submit corrections if they can’t get access.

These maps also show different carriers’ mobile network availability at various speed tiers: 5 Mbps download speeds for 4G LTE, along with 7 Mbps and 35 Mbps for 5G. The FCC requested data from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Dish about where their services will provide these speeds 90% of the time, and have formalized those into coverage maps to compare.

These will also be handy for mobile plan subscribers to compare these maps with coverage maps made by the carriers themselves, which differ in their speed and availability. T-Mobile, for instance, provides coverage maps that indicate where subscribers will get at least 2 Mbps download speeds 85% of the time, although T-Mobile found very little difference in coverage between their availability and the FCC’s 90% availability maps.

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