You have until January 13 to challenge the FCC’s national broadband map

By Gene Galin

Pittsboro, NC – When traveling to rural areas of Chatham County, signal loss can be common. For some county residents, this limited service is experienced every day. They may have internet access, but it’s very low speed or there’s some areas in the county that are just not even accessible.

Click here to go to interactive map

More than 20% of Americans in rural areas lack broadband with sufficient speeds, according to a 2020 report from the Federal Communications Commission. That’s compared to just 1.5% of Americans in urban areas.The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is funding a federal grant program that will distribute $42.5 billion across the country to get all Americans online and tighten the broadband gaps. Each state and territory will get $100 million through the Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment Program, with the remaining funds handed out based on the number of unserved locations in a state.

Those who live in unserved or underserved areas of Chatham County are urged to fill out the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) National Broadband map challenge. This gives county citizens the opportunity to make sure their information is correct on the Federal Communications Commission’s broadband map. The challenge, which aims to improve the accuracy and availability of broadband data across the country, would help identify areas that were unserved or underserved by internet service providers (ISPs).

Service is considered “available” at a location if the provider has, or previously had, a connection in service to the location, or if the provider could initiate service through a routine installation within 10 business days of a request with no extraordinary monetary charges or delays attributable to the extension of the provider’s network. You can submit a challenge based on the following reasons:
• Provider failed to schedule a service installation within 10 business days of a request.
• Provider did not install the service at the agreed-upon time.
• Provider requested more than the standard installation fee to connect this location.
• Provider denied the request for service.
• Provider does not offer the technology reported to be available at this location.
• Provider does not offer the speeds(s) reported to be available at this location.
• Subscribed Speed Not Achievable (Your internet service is not providing the speeds you expect.) These challenges will be treated by the FCC as a consumer complaint.
• No wireless or satellite signal is available at this location.
• Provider needed to construct new equipment at this location.

Go to the FCC’s National Broadband Map and type your address in the search bar to begin. Then, determine if you need to first submit a Location Challenge by seeing if your address is displayed on the map at all, is incorrectly shown as a business, has the incorrect address or unit count, or has incorrect geographic coordinates. If so, click “Location Challenge” (upper right) to complete the form. If the map later shows the successful challenge, proceed to the following Availability Challenge steps.
• Select the Fixed Broadband tab and then click the Availability Challenge link (mid-right).
• In the window that opens, click “Select” next to the provider whose service you want to challenge.
• Select either (1) “Send my challenge to the selected provider,” which will initiate a challenge against the provider, or (2) “I’m giving feedback about the information above but not submitting a challenge.”
• Enter your contact information – your name and email are required – and your phone number is optional.
• Select the reason code for your challenge. The remaining fields will update based on the type of challenge you select.
• Enter a description and upload any supporting documents or screenshots.
• Check the certification box.
• Click Submit.

Those who are interested in taking part in the survey can do so here. The survey only takes a few minutes. The survey will help to determine the county’s federal broadband funding in future years. It will help to bring funding to the areas of concern and for those who are currently impacted by connection issues.

The Broadband Map Challenge must be completed by January 13 in order to be updated for the mid-summer 2023 map.

FMI: Go here