Telco companies to provide data for broadband map

Aug 08, 2009 By JOELLE TESSLER , AP Technology Writer

(AP) -- The country's biggest phone and cable companies have agreed to hand over information about their broadband networks to help the federal government produce a national map showing where high-speed Internet connections are available across the U.S.

AT&T Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp. have told the Commerce Department that they are committed to helping the government "complete the important and difficult task of mapping broadband availability."

Trade groups representing a broad cross-section of the telecommunications sector, including wireless carriers, rural phone and and the industry giants, are also encouraging their members to cooperate with the Congressionally mandated effort.

"The information that the broadband carriers are now committed to providing is crucial to the creation of the national broadband map," said Lawrence Strickling, head of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, the arm of the Commerce Department that is overseeing the mapping project.

Congress included up to $350 million in the economic stimulus bill passed in February to develop a "comprehensive nationwide inventory map of existing broadband service capability and availability in the United States."

The NTIA will be awarding grants to entities in each state to gather data on everything from the availability of different broadband technologies to connection speeds at the local level. The data will be used to produce an interactive national broadband map that Americans everywhere can search to find local broadband services. Regulators and lawmakers also plan to use the data to target broadband investments and shape policy to bring affordable high-speed connections to all corners of the country.

Friday's announcement is the product of weeks of talks among the NTIA, telecom carriers, state officials and public interest groups. And it represents an attempt to balance the needs of the NTIA, which wants to collect data that is detailed enough to produce a robust map, and the concerns of the telecom companies, which don't want to be overburdened by impractical data reporting requirements and don't want to make too much sensitive information available to competitors. The carriers pledged their cooperation after the NTIA modified its data requirements to address industry concerns.

In one key change, the agency said it is no longer seeking data showing broadband options at the street-address level and will instead accept data showing availability at the census-block level for more densely populated areas. For less densely populated areas, the agency will accept data showing broadband availability for address ranges in each census block.

Thomas Power, chief of staff for the NTIA, noted that census-block-level data is likely to be more reliable than address-level data since it may not be practical to map broadband to every single address in the country.

The agency also said it is no longer seeking average revenue data, which telecom companies consider to be proprietary. That data also can be difficult to pinpoint when broadband is sold as part of a bundle of telecom services.

Glenn Reynolds, vice president of policy for the U.S. Telecom Association, said the new data requirements will "facilitate the accurate and timely completion of the map without risking the release of sensitive data."

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Explore further: Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

FCC gets going on national broadband plan

Apr 08, 2009

(AP) -- The Federal Communications Commission took the first step Wednesday in developing a comprehensive plan to give all Americans high-speed Internet access.

FCC to Investigate Broadband Deployment

Apr 18, 2007

The Federal Communications Commission announces an inquiry into whether broadband services are being provided to all Americans in a timely and reasonable fashion, and possible changes to methods of data collection that affect ...

Recommended for you

Dish Network denies wrongdoing in $2M settlement

9 hours ago

The state attorney general's office says Dish Network Corp. will reimburse Washington state customers about $2 million for what it calls a deceptive surcharge, but the satellite TV provider denies any wrongdoing.

Netflix's Comcast deal improves quality of video

Apr 14, 2014

Netflix's videos are streaming through Comcast's Internet service at their highest speeds in the past 17 months now that Netflix is paying for a more direct connection to Comcast's network.

New research on gigabit wireless communications

Apr 10, 2014

Research on gigabit wireless communications has been presented by researchers from the University of Bristol at the world's leading wireless communications and networking conference, IEEE WCNC 2014, in Turkey ...

Comcast, lawmakers debate mega-merger benefits

Apr 09, 2014

Comcast and skeptical lawmakers sparred Wednesday over the merits of a proposed mega-merger with Time Warner Cable which would boost the position of the largest US cable and broadband provider.

Lights, action: Tech giants rush into original TV

Apr 09, 2014

The battle of the tech giants is now moving into television. Following the success of Netflix and a fresh push by Amazon in online video, the latest players looking to get into the gold rush may be Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL, ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Intel reports lower 1Q net income, higher revenue

Intel's earnings fell in the first three months of the year amid a continued slump in the worldwide PC market, but revenue grew slightly because of solid demand for tablet processors and its data center services.

Low Vitamin D may not be a culprit in menopause symptoms

A new study from the Women's Health Initiative (WHI) shows no significant connection between vitamin D levels and menopause symptoms. The study was published online today in Menopause, the journal of The North American Menopa ...

Astronomers: 'Tilt-a-worlds' could harbor life

A fluctuating tilt in a planet's orbit does not preclude the possibility of life, according to new research by astronomers at the University of Washington, Utah's Weber State University and NASA. In fact, ...