FCC Finally Debuts an Up-to-Date Mobile Broadband Map of the U.S.

The Federal Communications Commission finally released a mobile broadband coverage map. This gives consumers the ability to see what type of coverage they can expect in each area.AdvertisementInteractive tool displays 4G LTE broadband data coverage and voice mobile coverage from four of the nation's largest carriers, AT&T, T-Mobile and UScellular. According to Friday's press release, the FCC stated that the data displayed is current as of May 15, 2021. To compare the coverage maps of different carriers, users can overlay them.The FCC has released the first map that shows updated mobile coverage. It is a significant improvement on other data published previously by the agency.It is worth noting, however, that the FCC claimed it also created the map by using data provided by the above carriers. These carriers don't have a track record of accurately reporting their coverage. This is not the only problem. This tool does not address the issue of home internet availability. It is a major concern in the so-called "digital divide", or the gap between those who have reliable, affordable internet access and those who do not. The 5G builds of each carrier are not included.What speeds users can expect from any network is also missing. In a note, Jessica Rosenworcel, acting chairwoman of the FCC, stated that a network must offer at least 5Mbps download speeds as well as 1Mbps upload speeds to be considered 4G data coverage. However, it is currently impossible to see on the map whether a carrier's coverage in a given area exceeds these benchmarks or exceeds them multiple times.It is a small step forward but it is a significant one and long overdue. Last year's Broadband Deployment Accuracy Act and Technological Availability act, which prompted the creation of this map, required that the FCC improve the accuracy and timeliness of its broadband availability maps. For years, conflicting and out-of-date data had hampered efforts at bridging the digital divide. The agency was also required to compile and publish more reliable data on satellite, fixed, and wired broadband providers, as well as to establish a crowdsourcing process for collecting information from the public.AdvertisementThe FCC announced Friday that crowdsourcing will be more effective now that the tool has gone live. After the backend has been verified, consumers and state and local authorities can provide feedback based on real-world experience that will improve the tool's accuracy.Rosenworcel stated in the press release that a good map is one that can change over time. The new map today represents our progress in implementing the Broadband DATA Act, and building next-generation broadband maps that will help connect 100 percent of Americans. We can now provide more information on where broadband service is available across the country thanks to improved data and systems.AdvertisementRosenworcel noted in her note that the map is just one of a series of attempts to provide consumers with a better understanding of the network coverage throughout the country.