Deadline nearing to challenge broadband access map in state

From staff reports

The Jan. 13 deadline is approaching for Pennsylvanians to review and challenge the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband access map for accuracy.

The FCC map shows all broadband serviceable locations across the U.S. where fixed broadband internet access service is or can be installed.

“The commonwealth’s allocation of funding for broadband deployment under the federal infrastructure law is dependent upon the map being accurate,” the Pennsylvania Broadband Development Authority, which oversees the distribution of the federal broadband dollars, said in a press release.

Over the last two or three years, government leaders in Venango, Clarion and Forest counties and municipalities in those counties have been actively involved with broadband expansion efforts.

Pennsylvania residents can visit the map to search for their home address to determine whether the information listed by the FCC is accurate. If information is incorrect for a location the map may be challenged.

There are two ways to submit a challenge — by a single location, or in bulk.

The location challenge can be completed by individual consumers utilizing the map itself. Bulk challengers will be required to use the Broadband Data Collection platform to submit information to the FCC, the press release said.

Additional information about the challenge processes can be found on the FCC’s website. A consumer may also challenge mobile data coverage through the FCC Speed Test App, a free application that can be downloaded from an Apple or Google Play Store, the press release said.

The Broadband Development Authority recently traveled across Pennsylvania to host listening sessions about the map and the process to challenge inaccurate information, including a stop last month in Franklin. Residents can find one of those pre-recorded sessions on the state Department of Community and Economic Development’s YouTube channel.

Penn State Extension also partnered with the authority to discuss the map and challenge process, and the presentation from those webinars can be found on the community and economic department’s website.

Gov. Tom Wolf announced the creation of the authority in February 2022 to manage at least $100 million in federal aid to coordinate the rollout of broadband across Pennsylvania.

The authority was charged with creating a statewide broadband plan and distributing federal and state monies for expansion projects in unserved and underserved areas of the state.