Two Years and Five Updates for the National Broadband Map

Nearly two years ago, NTIA launched the National Broadband Map, and today we are updating it, as we have every six months since its inception. The map provides the first-ever detailed datasets of broadband availability across the country, and it would not be possible without a unique partnership between the federal government, states, and the voluntary participation of many broadband providers.

With funding from NTIA, made available by the Recovery Act, each state undertook a massive effort to locate broadband availability by census block, essentially dividing the country into more than 11 million distinct areas. A census block is the smallest unit of geography for which population or other data are available, and on average has a population of about 28 people. With these data, we can now see change at a granular and national level every six months.

The results of the latest data collection, current as of June 30, 2012, are now online. The Map offers many ways to use the data. Try comparing different regions of the country or viewing data for a single provider. Many national statistics are also available in the reports. Here you will see that 98 percent of Americans now have access to wired or wireless broadband at advertised download speeds of at least 3 Mbps and upload speeds of at least 768 kbps. However, only 93 percent of Americans have access to these basic broadband speeds through wired services. Today, 81 percent of the country has access to wireless speeds of at least 6 Mbps, leaving us only 17 percentage points away from reaching the President’s goal of ensuring that 98 percent of Americans have access to 4G services.

Creating this dataset is no small feat. States use information from broadband providers, public data, and third-party datasets to develop a baseline statewide broadband availability dataset. This is challenging work. Data exist in many different formats and each grantee must standardize the information without harming its integrity. In some cases, the data does not currently exist, requiring field and engineering work to gather the data.

Next – and often most time consuming – grantees must review the data, comparing information sources, including on-the-ground knowledge discovered through public meetings, inquiries by phone and email, and third-party datasets and field verification, such as drive testing. This process allows grantees to verify the baseline dataset, and it sometimes also demonstrates that data are incorrect and need to be changed before sending them to NTIA.

Every six months, the states send more than 20 million combined records to NTIA. Because geography and population are different in every state, every grantee has a unique plan, primarily drawn from a set of common elements, for verifying data. Because this type of large-scale data collection had never been undertaken before, we all continue to identify and refine the most cost-effective and efficient methods for collecting and maintaining this information. If you would like to learn more about the methods each grantee uses, please see the Data Download page on the National Broadband Map. You can also contact the grantee in your state to find out other ways to engage.

Thanks to everyone involved in making this map a success. As always, please tell us how you are using the map and the data, ask us questions, or provide suggestions for improvement.

Anne Neville
Director, State Broadband Initiative

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The National Broadband Map Is Updated

Today we again updated the National Broadband Map, the unprecedented interactive map that shows what high-speed Internet service is available in the United States. The map is powered by a new set of data from 1,865 broadband providers nationwide – more than 20 million records – and displays where broadband is available, the name of the provider, the technology used to provide the service, and the maximum advertised speeds of the service.

Since its launch last year, the National Broadband Map has attracted more than 650,000 users who are employing the map to meet a variety of needs. For example:

  • The map is helping consumers and small businesses who are unaware of their broadband options. In Utah, for instance, a mid-sized company in the health care field was losing time and money due to frequent broadband outages at a rural office. The company considered moving these jobs to their headquarters in an urban location. However the company was able to use the National Broadband Map to identify other broadband providers in this rural county – and retain hundreds of jobs in this rural area.
  • Businesses are using the map to identify and analyze potential employment locations. For instance, the Kansas Department of Commerce and a customer service company used the map to identify communities with the broadband necessary to support home-based workers. As a result, the customer service company hired about 200 workers in the state, providing much-needed jobs in small towns that may have otherwise been overlooked for this work. Similarly, an online training company used the map to identify South Dakota towns where they can locate new offices, which will support more than 100 professional jobs in these rural locations
  • The map has supported academic research at more than 1,000 colleges and universities and been used by more than 500 city and county governments. And developers are using the data from the map to create new applications. In the past nine months, Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) have been called more than 20 million times.

Of course, these are just a few examples. We would like to hear how you are using the map too.

Lynn Chadwick, Acting Director
State Broadband Initiative

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New Data for the National Broadband Map

Just over a year ago, we unveiled the National Broadband Map – an unprecedented, interactive map that shows what high-speed Internet services are available in the United States. Powered by a searchable database of more than 20 million records, the map is the most extensive set of U.S. broadband availability data ever published. Our partners in the states collect new data every six months from nearly 1,800 broadband providers nationwide. Just as we did last September, today we area gain updating the map with the latest information.

The map has proven a valuable tool to a wide range of stakeholders, including consumers,researchers, policymakers, local planning officials, and application developers. Broadband drives economic growth and innovation – including advances in health care, education, and public safety – so data on America’s broadband capabilities is of increasing importance, especially as we work to close the digital divide.

Our goal remains to provide the most accurate information available. To make this possible, states are using a variety of best practices to validate data before providing it for the map. For example, the Missouri team uses a combination of techniques, including hitting the road to verify infrastructure, and comparing information supplied by broadband providers to third-party datasets, public data, and surveys the team conducts throughout the state. Utah uses similar methods, and has also conducted 9,300 miles of drive tests over in order to assess and validate mobile broadband availability and performance.

You can help too: our crowdsourcing feature enables you to confirm the accuracy of data or let us know if you spot an error. Just type in an address into the search bar and then select “expand all” to see your options for providing feedback. We pass this information back to the states to help with future data collections.

As always, we are interested in how the map is used – and sometimes it is in practical ways that we hadn’t even imagined. Let us know about your experience.

Anne Neville
Director of NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative

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The National Broadband Map Goes Mobile

This week we are happy to announce a new feature of the National Broadband Map that will make it easier to use on your mobile device. This new feature allows anyone on the go to more easily search broadband availability, summarize and rank data, and view a map of community anchor institutions — all optimized for their mobile device

The mobile browser version of the National Broadband Map is designed to provide a clean, intuitive experience on the screen size of a smartphone. Users swipe across panels of information and can always access additional information by sliding the footer panel up. A convenient sharing panel is also available at the top of each page.

Users are now able to search for local broadband data with their smart phones’ GPS capabilities, if available. Traditional search is also supported, and the results are presented in a new format for mobile devices: in search results, just tap on a broadband provider to see further details and to access our crowdsource voting links.

The Community Anchor Institutions map is the first map we are deploying for a mobile environment. Tap “Search” to enter an address and find the 25 closest facilities. The map will zoom to the request location, and each point will offer information about the facility and any known broadband service details. Watch for additional maps to be included in the future.

Developers will be interested to know that we use the jQuery Mobile framework, and users will appreciate a wide range of supported mobile browsers (see: use the mobile interface, simply visit with your mobile device, and it will appear automatically. Links to the complete desktop version are always available on the page footer.

We hope National Broadband Map users will find these improvements helpful and that the information available on the National Broadband Map will now be even more accessible to everyone.

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The National Broadband Map Gets an Update

Earlier this year, we launched a ground-breaking interactive online map that shows what high-speed Internet services are available across the country. Like the spread of railroads and electrification spurred new economic opportunities during America’s past, broadband is supporting new economic opportunities in America today. Experts agree that we must better understand where sufficient broadband exists in order to address where it does not.

The National Broadband Map, powered by a searchable database of more than 20 million records, has already drawn more than 500,000 different users. Today we are rolling out the first significant update of the map since it was unveiled in February. The map has new data, current as of December 31. And the number of broadband providers supplying that data has increased to 1,731, up from 1,650 at launch.

Most of these new additions are small providers, including rural companies in places as varied as Alaska and Massachusetts, that may not be household names. Including them in the map will help ensure that consumers shopping for broadband service are aware of all their options.

In addition, the map now offers a new research tool that produces snapshots of individual broadband providers, showing where they offer service, what speeds they offer, and how much of the country – or of a particular state or county – they cover.

The map is an ambitious, unprecedented undertaking – the result of the most extensive set of American broadband availability data ever published – and it is only possible because of a unique federal-state-private partnership. NTIA created and is updating the map twice yearly in collaboration with the FCC, using data that every state, territory, and the District of Columbia (or their designees) collects from broadband providers or other sources.

Together with our grantees in the states, we continue working to make the data an even stronger tool for users. For example, we provide technical assistance to the grantees to help them address challenges that arise in the field. And grantees have developed best practice methodologies in many areas, such as evaluating changes in provider participation, defining classes of broadband technology, and reflecting satellite coverage.

In addition, the public is using the crowdsourcing feature to alert us if, say, a list of local broadband providers is incomplete or incorrect. The tool has already drawn more than 40,000 submissions, much of which confirms the map’s underlying data. In other cases, the public has identified errors, which we pass on to our grantees to support their ongoing data verification efforts. (By the way, enter your street address – not city name or zip code – for the most accurate results.)

The map serves many types of users. Business owners and consumers can type in their address and see a list of local broadband providers, along with details on their maximum advertised speeds and the technology used to provide the service. Economic developers can use the map to market particular communities to businesses and residents looking for cutting-edge telecommunications services.

Research firms and academics can figure out which states, counties, and census blocks have the fastest broadband connections and compare those findings with demographic data, such as income and race. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, for example, has already done a study on broadband access and demographics using the dataset published in February. Policymakers can use the map to help craft policies that support private sector investment in broadband. And application developers can combine the data with additional information for further analysis or other new uses.

This is America’s map. Let us know how you are using it too.

Anne Neville
Director of NTIA’s State Broadband Initiative

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Diving Deeper into the Data

This week, NTIA and FCC have rolled out a number of improvements to the National Broadband Map, to improve performance, add features, and communicate better with the user community.

The National Broadband Map (NBM) website sits on a wealth of information that has been collected by each State and Territory. 25 million records make up the current release of the data, and our web site allows users to search, summarize and rank up to 37 trillion combinations of provider, speed, technology, and demographics across a number of geographies. Most significantly, we tie these data to the census block level, which is as detailed a national data set as has been available previously. But many users wish to do more with the NBM data, and that is why we have built this site as a platform for developers. Our recent updates have added a number of new features which improve speed, efficiency, and the utility of the NBM for developers and users alike.

New APIs have been added for Community Anchor Institutions (find nearest CAI) and for Census (find by FIPS). Census APIs now return the geographic envelope in the response. Speed test APIs now allow users to choose which speed test source they prefer, M-lab, Ookla, or both. And all APIs now benefit from a unique caching layer, implemented by our development team. This allows the NBM website, and any other sites using our APIs to display very speedy results. For more information, please see our Developer page.

Our search results page now features a third crowd-sourcing feature for speed. In the future, we will also provide a map of all the crowd-source points we have collected; interesting patterns are emerging!

Speaking of the map gallery, our web statistics tell us that many visitors were not finding all of our maps contained in the gallery (six and growing!). So we now display the gallery selector when you first start to explore the maps. Take another tour around the Map Gallery.

Some people like to just see the data, and the National Broadband Map provides a number of ways to download data. A new feature on the Search Results and Rank pages adds CSV to the list of export options. Simply search for an address, or Rank a Geography, and click Export at the top of the page. In addition, users can visit the Data Downloads page for all the underlying data used on the site.

The NBM Analyze page now features a list of the 10 most visited geographies for the Rank and Summarize tools. Users can select any of these 10, or create their own set of results. When you create a result, our RESTful URLs allow you to refer back to that same web address directly, for convenient sharing or inclusion in reports.

When serving up a dataset with 25 million records, changes both large and small can make a big difference. In addition to the above features, our team has added dozens of tweaks, refinements, and bug fixes, to make the experience of using the National Broadband Map more useful and informative.

Eric Spry
Deputy Geographic Information Officer
Federal Communications Commission

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Broadband Data Beyond the Map

It’s been a month since NTIA launched the National Broadband Map and the response has been stunning. The map gets thousands of visitors every day, with almost half a million unique visitors since the launch.

Beyond the interactive map features, we have also made the underlying data available for use by all stakeholders, including consumers, policymakers, and researchers. Although it consists of a huge amount of information – over 25 million records – it has been downloaded by hundreds of users so far. Among those who have been studying the map most closely are a group of academics and other researchers who sought and received permission to begin analyzing the underlying data even before the map itself was released. I am pleased to be speaking at a forum next Tuesday, hosted by TechNet at the National Press Club here in Washington, where many of these researchers will be among the first to offer subjective analyses of what the data tell us about broadband practices and deployment across the nation. (See TechNet’s agenda here ).

The availability of the National Broadband Map and underlying data follows President Obama’s directive that federal agencies operate transparently and collaboratively with the private sector and the American public, using the most advanced technological tools. Consistent with this commitment to data transparency, we expect to see the broadband map and data put to a variety of uses, with the most recent example being the Department of Education’s new map showing broadband availability at schools and colleges throughout the nation (

We look forward to next week’s panel, which will continue a very open dialogue about America’s broadband challenges and opportunities.

Tom Power
Chief of Staff
National Telecommunications and Information Administration

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What makes the National Broadband Map #gov20?

On January 21, 2009, President Barack Obama, in a Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government, directed Federal departments and agencies to promote public trust through transparency, public participation and collaboration. One of our goals in launching the National Broadband Map (NBM) is to effectively embody those three principles.

Here are some of the ways we are doing so:

The National Broadband Map is transparent.  For example, we provide information on the source of each part of the dataset and how the data were collected. We take a soup-to-nuts approach towards publishing this “data lineage,” beginning with access to the methodologies that each state grantee developed to describe its data collection and validation processes. We include lists of the broadband providers that volunteered data in each state and those that are still working on it. The National Broadband Map also provides information detailing how NTIA and the FCC integrated, evaluated, and mapped the individual state datasets. Finally, the data described above come alive on the website itself through features such as search/find, rank, summarize and map. And if you want the data for yourself, are all available via API or direct download.

The National Broadband Map is participatory. In fact, we are actively seeking your participation. When you search for information by address, we want you to tell us whether you have access to the specific broadband providers and/or maximum advertised speeds listed (feature coming soon). If your provider isn’t listed, we encourage you to let us know. More importantly, every bit of crowdsourced information, positive and negative, will be available to the state grantees that are collecting and updating the data. Grantees will be able to use your feedback to expand and improve their next dataset, which will be updated every six months.

The National Broadband Map is collaborative. Thanks to an unprecedented partnership among NTIA, the FCC, all 50 states, 5 territories, the District of Columbia, and more than 1650 unique broadband providers, the National Broadband Map is the most comprehensive telecommunications dataset ever released by the government — and we’re just getting started. This Federal-State partnership isn’t solely intended to produce the map, however; the map is part of the State Broadband Initiative designed to create capacity and facilitate the expansion of broadband throughout the country. We’ll continue to highlight the work of these efforts to plan, coordinate, and accelerate broadband deployment and adoption across each state, and encourage you to get involved.

So what really makes the National Broadband Map #gov20? You do.

Andrew MacRae
Program Officer, State Broadband Initiative
National Telecommunications and Information Administration

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25 Million Records

Last week we released the first version of the National Broadband Map (NBM). The data it contains represents the hard work of 50 states, 3 territories and the District of Columbia over the last year and a half. With over 25 million records, this dataset is the first of its kind and provides an invaluable resource of information on broadband availability in the Nation. As with any first, however, there is information that needs to be corrected that does not display correctly.

We identified some of this information at launch and listed it on our FAQ section.

We are currently updating this section to address other issues we have identified. We want to call particular attention to how Arkansas is displayed on one of our maps. Arkansas provided its data to us, but due to some processing issues, that data is not currently displaying on the Broadband Availability across Demographic Characteristics . As we work to fix this gap, we recommend you look at the Analyze section of the NBM to see this type of information about Arkansas.

You may also want to check out Connect Arkansas which has done a great job of gathering this data and organizing communities to expand broadband opportunities. They’ve also completed a survey about broadband adoption in their state that yields some fascinating information.

We’re very excited about the response to the National Broadband Map, appreciate all your feedback and encourage you to keep using the crowdsourcing tools on the website.

Anne Neville
Director, State Broadband Initiative
National Telecommunications and Information Administration

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First 24 hours

The launch of the National Broadband Map marks the beginning of a promising new venture: empowering consumers, researchers, policy-makers, and developers to truly understand what broadband means in America.

This idea — a powerful way to navigate huge troves of data to increase transparency and understanding — drove the production of the map. In building the map, our team had a hunch that there would be a hunger for a tool that served up this level of detail and information. The talented designers, web architects, and geospatial pros kept that in mind throughout the entire building process.

When the map went live yesterday, the response was astounding, with the number of requests to the website averaging more than 1,000 per second! Below is just a short list of the metrics we observed on our first day;

  • Total hits yesterday: 158,123,884
  • Hits served by cache: 141,068,348 (89.21%)
  • Total Bytes Transferred: 863GB
  • Peak Requests per Second: 8,970
  • Average Requests per Second: 1,095
  • Visits in the first 10 hours: over 500,000

This phenomenal response shows that the investment of time, energy, and — not least of all — Congressional funds were well worth it. The National Broadband Map clearly has a market of interest, and we’re extremely proud to see that market being well served.

With this kind of traffic, we are tripling efforts to serve you better. The team has been working round the clock to make infrastructure enhancements to the site. These enhancements include horizontal scaling of servers, adding more memory and more caching to the maps, tuning the map server architecture with the software developers for the map, and working with outside partners to help with the application. We are also working to resolve known browser issues with the map. Most features of the website can be viewed in any browser, but the maps in the gallery are best viewed with Firefox and Chrome. You can help identify and solve these issues through feedback.

I can’t wait to keep making the National Broadband Map better, particularly because I know that feedback, new ideas, and innovation around the map will be driving that process.

Michael Byrne
Geographic Information Officer
Federal Communications Commission

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