IE11 Not Supported

For optimal browsing, we recommend Chrome, Firefox or Safari browsers.

Long-Awaited National Broadband Map Released

The Texas broadband office encourages participation by anyone with a stake in connectivity.

Broadband logo for Texas has a small state flag
This story is limited to Industry Insider members.
Login to access.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released* its national broadband map, and now comes the challenge process.

This process is part of the pathway for determining what areas nationally are without broadband or underserved, and communities are encouraged by the Texas Broadband Development Office (BDO) to challenge the data where needed.

“The publicly available map displays location-by-location views of high-speed Internet availability across the country. Eligible entities may challenge the map’s accuracy from now until Jan. 13,” the BDO said in its most recent newsletter. “It is critical that Texans participate in the challenge process in time for the FCC to include updated data in the final map.”

This data directly impacts funding distributions for Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) funding. These funds will be distributed by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) and in turn distributed at the state level.

During a Friday event in Lubbock, Jennifer Harris spoke about broadband and rural development. Harris has worked for many years in the state's public sector and is now the federal program officer for Texas in the Office of Internet Connectivity and Growth at the U.S. Commerce Department. She has served on the Governor’s Broadband Development Council and has worked with Connected Nation, a nonprofit that advocates for connectivity and surrounding issues.

“What we saw from Congress in the infrastructure bill (the IIJA), was that they put a historic investment ... the most dollars we’ve ever seen, toward broadband,” Harris said during the Texas Tribune's Future of Rural Texas event.

“In that bill for these purposes, the majority of those dollars went to NTIA, the agency that I work for, within the Department of Commerce, to administer,” she said. “But what’s really cool about the way this is being done is that our states and territories are going to be involved for the first time and in a different way than they've ever been involved.”

“What the federal government has done is made it to where every single state and territory is going to be able to run their own grant program … because they know their residents best.”

The BDO is the agency in charge of state funding and wrote that it, alongside national agencies, will assist those who wish to participate in the map challenge process. The FCC is also accepting bulk challenges to the reported availability data.

LightBox was selected in August to provide mapping services and “has been working with the FCC to develop a licensing arrangement to determine the criteria for using its data from the Texas map in challenging the FCC map fabric,” according to the BDO. Until an agreement has been reached, BDO and LightBox “cannot submit challenges”; however, the state office “strongly encourages communities and local governments to submit their challenge data while discussions continue.”

Dates of note:
  • Now through Jan. 13: FCC broadband map challenges accepted.
  • Nov. 29: BDO monthly industry roundtable at 3 p.m.
  • Dec. 1: BDO monthly government roundtable at 10 a.m.
  • December to January: Anticipated completion of the Texas broadband map by LightBox.
  • June 30: Latest date to release final FCC map, which will determine funding allocations.

The Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA) since November 2020 has supported the BDO, established under House Bill 5 during the 87th Legislature. The office is charged with creating an accurate broadband map, awarding grants and monies, setting the threshold speed for broadband, providing community outreach and addressing barriers to expansion.

*Full coverage of the FCC’s map release can be found at Government Technology, the sister publication of Industry Insider — Texas.
Rae D. DeShong is a Dallas-based e.Republic staff writer and has worked at The Dallas Morning News and as a community college administrator.