Broadband Classroom

This section provides definitions for common terms used throughout the National Broadband Map website.

Speed Definitions

Technology Definitions

Download/Upload Definitions

We provide a number of other definitions that will help you as you navigate through the NBM website.


Sometimes broadband service might be available to an area, but only if construction or other work is completed first. The National Broadband Map is not intended to include broadband service that is not available to a customer within a typical service interval (7 to 10 business days) and/or without an extraordinary commitment of resources.


"Broadband" refers to a high-speed, always-on connection to the Internet. The primary factors that people consider when deciding what type of broadband Internet service to subscribe to include service availability, connection speed, technology and price. Organizations define broadband in different ways. For information to be included on the National Broadband Map, the technology must provide a two-way data transmission (to and from the Internet) with advertised speeds of at least 768 kilobits per second (Kbps) downstream and at least 200 Kbps upstream to end users.


The Broadband Technology Opportunities Program is administered by the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), under Section 6001 of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).

Census Block

A census block is the smallest geographic unit for which the Census Bureau tabulates 100-percent data. Many blocks correspond to individual city blocks bounded by streets, but blocks - especially in rural areas -may include many square miles and may have some boundaries that are not streets. The data on the National Broadband Bap is displayed at the census block-level for all census blocks that are less than two square miles in size. For census blocks that that are larger than two square miles, the data is displayed by road segment.

Census Places

Census Places included on the National Broadband Map include Census Designated Places and Incorporated Places.

Community Anchor Institutions

Schools, libraries, medical and healthcare providers, public safety entities, community colleges and other institutions of higher education, and other community support organizations and entities.

Confidential Information

The National Broadband Map does not display Confidential Information, which is defined as any information, including trade secrets, or commercial or financial information, submitted under SBI that: (1) Identifies the type and technical specification of infrastructure owned, leased, or used by a specific broadband service provider; or (2) identifies the average revenue per user (ARPU) for a specific broadband service provider. Confidential Information, as defined herein and as provided as part of a project funded under this Program, will not be made publicly available, pursuant to the limitations set forth in the Broadband Data Improvement Act (BDIA), except as required by applicable law or judicial or administrative action or proceeding, including the Freedom of Information Act requirements. Please see NTIA's Federal Register Notices for this program for more information.


Crowdsourcing allows users contribute to the National Broadband Map by providing information to enhance the national broadband availability dataset.


Statistics, figures, descriptions, maps, geographic coordinates, or other such information relating to the provision of broadband services.

End User

A residential or business customer, institution or State or local government entity, including a Community Anchor Institution, that may use broadband service for its own purposes and that does not resell the service to others or incorporate it into another retail offering. Internet Service Providers (ISP) are not "end users" for this purpose.


A "facilities-based" provider of broadband service connections to end user locations if any of the following conditions are met: (1) It owns the portion of the physical facility that terminates at the end user location; (2) it obtains unbundled network elements (UNEs), special access lines, or other leased facilities that terminate at the end user location and provisions/equips them as broadband; or (3) it provisions/equips a broadband wireless channel to the end user location over licensed or unlicensed spectrum.

Housing Units (HU)

Includes a house, an apartment, a mobile home, a group of rooms or a single room that is occupied (or if vacant, is intended for occupancy) as separate living quarters.

Last Mile Infrastructure

Infrastructure consisting of facilities used to provide broadband service between end-user equipment and the appropriate access point, router or first significant aggregation point in the broadband network. In basic terms, this is the infrastructure that connects homes and small businesses to the high-speed Internet.

Middle Mile and Backbone Interconnection Points

In general, interconnection points of facilities that provide connectivity between a service provider's network elements (or segments) or between a service provider's network and another provider's network, including the Internet backbone. In basic terms, this is the infrastructure used to provide broadband service but excludes the direct connection to homes and small businesses.

Recovery Act

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Public Law 111-5, 123 Stat. 115 (2009).

Road Segment

A road segment, also referred to as a street segment, is the portion of a street between two consecutive cross streets.


Satellite-delivered broadband services are offered across the United States by several companies to provide high-speed access to the Internet at broadband speeds. These satellite-based broadband services are available to customers with a clear view of the southern sky at locations throughout the 48 contiguous U.S. states, Hawaii, Puerto Rico and Alaska. Further information on the Satellite Broadband Service providers and availability at your address can be found through the links listed below.

Satellite Broadband Providers:



Launched in 2009, NTIA's State Broadband Initiative (SBI) implements the joint purposes of the Recovery Act and the Broadband Data Improvement Act, which envisioned a comprehensive program, led by state entities or non-profit organizations working at their direction, to facilitate the integration of broadband and information technology into state and local economies. NTIA awarded $293 million in grants to states for these purposes. $176 million of these awards were made to states to collect broadband availability data twice a year for five years, and in some states, to complete statewide address files. NTIA also invested approximately $117 million in state-driven projects that use broadband technology to improve their local economies. Project descriptions are available at NTIA's SBI website.

Service Area

The entire area within which an existing service provider offers broadband service.

Service Location

The specific geographic point or location at which a service provider offers broadband service, such as a specific residence or business.

Wireless ISP (WISP)

An Internet service provider that provides fixed or mobile wireless services to its customers. Using Wi-Fi or proprietary wireless methods, WISPs provide last mile access, often in rural areas and areas in and around smaller cities and towns.

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