Federal agencies have mapped out how well the entire country can access 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 Hoosiers to submit challenges to the map to get the state the full amount of broadband money and access it needs.
The Federal Communications Commission’s broadband map 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 put out by the White House said 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 may be too expensive to be within reach.
There’s been a push, including by the FCC, to ditch the older and slower standard in favor of one better suited to modern internet demands: 100 Mbps. About 86% of the state has access to that speed, it claims.
But the map’s numbers are likely overestimations — and Indiana wants you to help fact-check it before a January 13 deadline. Small variations on a hyper-local level can add up across a state.
That’s because there’s money in the mix.
The National Telecommunications and Information Administration’s Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment Program is worth $42.45 billion, and it’s meant 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 scope of unserved locations in a state is not reflected on the map by that time, that state might not receive its full share of funding,” the broadband office warned in a news release.
How’s your internet, really?
Hoosiers can search for a specific address on the FCC’s dedicated page and see if it reflects reality.
There are two ways to challenge the map for a particular address: on grounds of location or availability.
For location, an address is missing or inaccurately included.
The broadband office said Hoosiers can check that their homes and businesses are included on the map, that they’re in the right spot, that the number of units is correct and that it’s correctly marked as serviceable or not.
For availability, an internet service provider didn’t report accurate information about a particular address.
The broadband office said residents can file challenges if a provider denied a request for service, demanded “excessive” fees for service or didn’t schedule service installation within 10 business days of a request.
Providers have to review those challenges, and concede or deny them. If they concede or lose the challenge, that address will show up as unavailable on the maps.
States will open sub grant programs for their share of the funding in late 2023 or early 2024.
The Indiana Capital Chronicle is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that covers state government, policy and elections.