New FCC broadband maps are here, promising a better picture of your internet options

Robin Layton

Nov 28, 2022 — 3 min read

Our team tested their addresses. See what we found.

FCC broadband availability map with types of service shown as blue shading.

Creating a tool to find where internet is available and where it is not is still proving to be a challenge. The newest broadband availability map, which debuted last week from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is an improvement on the former, but staff are reporting errors and omissions.

Issues around incorrect addresses, missing known providers and wrong providers are among several problems found with our early users. One tester based in North Carolina noted, “It looks like Starlink (listed as Space Exploration Technologies) is listed as serviceable just about everywhere, but on the availability map on Starlink’s site, it shows service has not expanded to the Southeastern U.S. yet.” 

The FCC notes that this is a pre-production draft and is the “first step forward in building more accurate, more granular broadband maps, which are long overdue and mandated by Congress.” 

Many iterations are expected as the FCC has allowed for individuals to submit challenges or request corrections. In fact, bulk challenges to reported availability will be accepted from state and Tribal governments, and other entities are also welcome. 

Why is correct internet reporting so complicated? 

Basically, the data used is only as good as what information broadband providers shared with the FCC, “Broadband availability will be based on data submitted by providers during the initial Broadband Data Collection filing window and will reflect services available as of June 30, 2022,” stated an FCC press release.

The older FCC maps used census block-level data, which kept unserved locations hidden if they were in partially served census blocks. The new map uses location-level data. 

The FCC explained, “To generate this version of the map, providers’ availability data has been matched to the location information contained in the Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric (Fabric). The Fabric is a common dataset of all locations in the United States where fixed broadband internet access service is or can be installed.”

The original maps prompted Microsoft to create its own in 2019. 

How to report an error

When you input your address and see the results page, there are two links, “Location challenge” and “Availability challenge,” that you can follow to report the issue. The FCC provided this info to help you decide when to report an issue:

You can improve the map

You, as a user of the map, can assist in the ongoing process of improving the data in one of the following ways:

  • If you think the information about the location point of your home or another location is wrong, you can submit a Location Challenge from the map. You can also submit a Location Challenge if you think a location is missing from the map.
  • If you think the information on the map about which ISPs offer broadband service to your home or to another location is wrong, you can dispute it by submitting an Availability Challenge from the map.
  • If you think the information on mobile coverage is wrong, you can also dispute that by taking speed tests on your mobile phone with the FCC Speed Test app. The results of these tests will be aggregated to create Mobile Challenges that mobile providers must respond to improve their coverage maps.

Other issues we found

Our team discovered and reported these errors:

  • “I had trouble formatting my address correctly to show an APT or Unit number. Tried my old address and two major providers that are serviceable there (Spectrum & Google Fiber) did not show up in the results.”
  • “My ISP does show up. Two odd things: (1) it shows T-Mobile 5G but T-Mobile 5G’s lead form would send me to the unserved waitlist. (2) some of the naming conventions would not be immediately recognized by most households if they were to search themselves (Charter instead of Spectrum, alphabet instead of Google Fiber).”
  • “My address shows nothing at all, but our townhouse was finished in August 2021. Our whole neighborhood has Spectrum.”
  • “My address doesn’t show up, but two other homes on neighboring streets (built after mine do appear). Similarly, they show Charter and T-Mobile service, which isn’t offered on the provider sites.”

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Robin Layton

Written by:

Robin Layton

Editor, Broadband Content

Robin Layton is an editor for the broadband marketplace Allconnect. She built her internet industry expertise writing and editing for four years on the site, as well as on Allconnect’s sister site … Read more