The long-awaited US broadband internet maps are here — for you to challenge

We’ve shown you — repeatedly, both with data and anecdotally — that the internet is broken in the United States. We pay less and deal with a lot of nonsense. And one big reason is that wolves guard the henhouse. The FCC has relied internet service provider themselves to be honest about the houses that they cover, the data that the FCC has not audited.

So if you think internet access is important, do what everyone likes: type your address into the FCC’s long-awaited new broadband map and see if your internet service provider is lying about offering coverage to your home. If so, press the “Availability Challenge” button and submit the proof.

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Today, the FCC finally put the first “pre-production draft” version of its new interactive broadband map on the web, and they’re better in one way — they no longer automatically assume you’re covered just because there is a single house in your census tract have internet. (Yes, that’s exactly how it worked before.) Now, you can see each individual address and press a button to challenge what the ISP is reporting to the government.

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Unfortunately, you will probably have to participate here (and / or make a political smell) if you want this map to actually be accurate. Because, as dedicated broadband journalists like Nicole Ferraro and Karl Bode have warned, the map is new permanent trust the ISP to be honest. Heck, the CEO of the company that built them for the FCC, CostQuest, admitted that they depend on “how well the broadband provider actually reports.” And I think I’ve seen some mistakes in my block.

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Press that button

Click the “Challenge Availability” button if the ISP misreports.
Screenshot by Sean Hollister / The Verge

You won’t find the actual internet speed on the map either, just the advertised maximum speed of each tier that the ISP claims it will sell to your address.

Still, the map is new it, and it is intriguing to filter by specific type or speed of service and have seen gaps. At the top of this article, you can see that the self-reported data shows that fiber has a long way to go.

The FCC acknowledges that there is more to do and it needs your help. “While today marks an important milestone in the effort to create a more granular and accurate broadband map, this work is far from over,” read part of the statement from FCC Chairman Jessica Rosenworcel. “Releasing this initial version of the new map is intended to start an ongoing iterative process where we are constantly adding new data to improve and refine the map.”

This week, the FCC also issued its final order on broadband nutrition labels. They’re coming! I’ll have another quick story about that soon.


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