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County Commissioners call on residents to check accuracy of FCC broadband map

Challenges to inaccurate data could bring in federal dollars for expanded access
The Federal Communications Commission released a new map of high-speed broadband internet access across the United States in November. The agency is accepting challenges through Jan. 13, 2023. (Courtesy of the Federal Communications Commission)

The public has until Jan. 13, 2023 to submit any challenges to the map of broadband internet access released by the Federal Communications Commission in November. La Plata County Commissioner Matt Salka is urging residents to plug their address into the map and verify that their internet access is accurately represented.

The map was put together using data from internet service providers, but Salka warned that it is not necessarily entirely accurate, especially in rural areas. He said that sometimes other barriers are unknown to the ISPs, such as line-of-site issues in circumstances when service is provided via satellite.

“An accurate map will help identify the communities most in need of funding for high-speed internet projects,” reads the FCC fact sheet on the matter.

Anyone wishing to challenge the map can do so by clicking “Location Challenge” in the top right corner of the pop-up box after entering an address. Users can contest that an area or address is provided the service at all, or that the service provided it not adequately met from a speed perspective.

Salka has made expanding broadband access a priority of his time in office. The Board of County Commissioners allocated $2.5 million of the $10.9 million it received from the American Rescue Plan Act for expanding broadband access throughout the county. The Bipartison Infrastructure Law signed by President Joe Biden in 2021 allocated $65 billion to expanding broadband nationwide.

Both the Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Indian Tribe recently received significant monetary awards to develop broadband infrastructure as a result of that legislation.

Access to high-speed internet is now considered essential infrastructure and has been linked to health outcomes. It can enable users to enjoy a wide variety of services that might otherwise have prohibitively high barriers to access.

“This is important because … we can then use this FCC map for grant opportunities, (for) funding coming down to say ‘hey, look, our services are not being met with broadband and pay attention to us in this area for that type of funding,’” Salka said.

County residents can check the status of their address and challenge the map from www.broadbandmap.fcc.gov.