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 ( http://maps.ed.gov/broadband).

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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National Broadband Map is launched!

Welcome to the first-ever public, searchable nationwide map of broadband access.

The National Broadband Map is an unprecedented project created by NTIA, in collaboration with the FCC, and in partnership with each state, territory and the District of Columbia. We created the map at the direction of Congress, which recognized that economic opportunities are driven by access to 21st Century infrastructure.

With funding from NTIA’s State Broadband Data & Development Program, our state partners have gathered and worked to validate broadband data from thousands of providers across the country. Together, we developed a dataset and website that includes more than 25 million searchable records displaying where broadband Internet service is available, the technology used to provide the service, the maximum advertised speeds of the service, and the names of the broadband providers. Whether you are a consumer seeking more information on the broadband options available to you, a researcher or policymaker working to spur greater broadband deployment, a local official aiming to attract investment in your community, or an application developer with innovative ideas, the National Broadband Map can help. And if you don’t find the answer you’re looking for on the map itself, you can download the entire dataset.

While the launch of this map is a huge accomplishment, today is just the beginning. Our partners in the states are working to expand and update this important dataset, and we will update the map with new data every six months. In the meantime, you can help. Each time you search the map, you have the opportunity to tell us about the data you’re seeing. This crowdsourced feedback will be an important tool to improve and refine the data.

We invite you to explore the many features and functionalities the National Broadband Map offers. To start, search for broadband by address. Or go straight to our analysis tools and compare one area to others, and make sure you spend some time with our maps. Want more? Download the dataset, use our APIs and please tell us how you’re using the data.

We expect the map will be a valuable tool as we work to bridge the technological divide, expand economic opportunities, and leverage the power of broadband to address many of the nation’s most pressing challenges. We hope you will make full use of its capabilities and let us know what you think and how we can improve.

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

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Your Feedback is important!

The National Broadband Map, at launch, provides consumers with a wealth of information to consider about the shape of Internet service across the country. By collecting these data through the SBDD program, and conducting independent data validation on every record, we feel the data is very good. However, we encourage you to provide us with feedback on your assessment of the map and the data we are providing.

To send us your comments, use form below to post your comments, use Twitter hashtag #nbmap, or send us an email to SBDD@ntia.doc.gov.

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