Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the current status of the National Broadband Map?
The data collection program outlined in the NTIA's State Broadband Initiative program ended with the June 2014 data collection. The Federal Communications Commission assumed responsibility for collecting broadband deployment data through the Form 477 Data Program.
The Commission sought funding for FY 2016 to maintain and update the National Broadband Map, but this request was not granted. While the Commission is not currently in a position to update the map in light of funding constraints, it continues to collect and report on deployment through its semi-annual Form 477 data collection and annual Broadband Progress Report.
- How often will NTIA update the National Broadband Map?
During the SBI program, this site was updated with new data every six months. The FCC assumed responsibility for this site at the conclusion of the last data update (June 2014).
- Where will I find the most current broadband availability data?
The data on this website reflects the final data collection of the State Broadband Initiative, with data as of June 30, 2014.
The FCC collects broadband deployment data similar to that collected through the State Broadband Initiative. The FCC updates the publically Form 477 dataset twice a year, and it is available here.
- What does the list of broadband providers in this area mean?
These are broadband providers that offer service in the census block for the address that you searched. For large Census Blocks, the page displays results by road segment.
If you enter a city, zip code, county or any other geography this is not a street address, the website will display providers offering service in the census block in the center of that area.
The search results will be listed in order from fastest available speed to lowest available speed, separating those with speeds advertised above 3 Mbps and those below 3 Mbps.
- If I enter a street address on the homepage, do the results show a list of broadband providers only for my address?
The website will display the broadband providers that reported offering service in the census block or for blocks larger than two square miles road segment for that address. For more information, see the previous question.
- If I enter a city, zip code or county on the homepage, do the results show a list of broadband providers for the entire area?
No, the website will display the broadband providers that reported offering service in the census block in the center of the city, zip code or county. If you are looking for a summary of the broadband characteristics for larger areas, try using the Analyze section of the website.
- What can I do if I think that the information about my address is incorrect?
If you see information that you believe is incorrect, you may let us know using the availability and/or speed verification questions beneath each provider's information. If you have a service provider that is not listed, you can enter your provider at the bottom of the page. Please remember that the search results show information about the census block or road segment. Generally, if broadband is available within part of a census block or road segment, it is available across all of that area, but not always.
- Can I switch broadband providers using this website?
This site only provides information about broadband availability. You cannot order service or switch broadband providers on the site. The websites for most broadband providers are included in the search results. You can find out more specific information about service offerings and pricing on these websites.
- Can I compare the broadband services that are available at two different locations?
To view the results for more than one address, click the "COMPARE" button that is located on the upper right side of the results page. The page will refresh and display a second bar in which you can enter a second address. Click the green "COMPARE" button to see the results for the two addresses displayed side-by-side.
- How can I translate speeds like 3, 10 or 25 Mbps into something that makes sense to me?
The Broadband Classroom section of the website provides examples of the amount of time it takes to perform common activities, such as downloading a song, at different broadband speeds. This helps illustrate what the speeds advertised by broadband providers mean for consumers. Keep in mind that actual file sizes vary and will affect actual download times.
- What is Maximum Advertised Speed? Should I expect to receive this at home?
Broadband providers often advertise their services based on the maximum speeds that they can offer. You can test your broadband connection to see what speeds you are receiving, and if you are not receiving the advertised speed, you may want to contact your broadband provider to investigate. There are a number of commercially available speed tests, including Ookla Speedtest and the FCC's mobile broadband speed test app.
- What happens when I rate a broadband provider's record?
We make the ratings available to each State or organization that collected it (i.e. each SBI Grantee) so that they can use them to validate and improve data in future updates.
- Why don't I always see satellite providers in my search results?
Satellite providers have not been incorporated into the map. To see more information about satellite providers, please see the Broadband Classroom.
- What is the data review?
Broadband data is gathered by one entity in each state, each of which has received a grant from NTIA. Because grantees can only review data within the context of their states, NTIA compares all data against several datasets that contain data about different aspects of broadband availability. This comparison is intended to help users understand whether the data on the map matches existing datasets or whether it is new information.
The results of the data review are available for each record. For each record that appears in the search results, you will see a circle that is green, yellow, red or grey. A green circle indicates that the record matched every source to which it was compared; a yellow circle indicates that the record matched at least one source; a red circle indicates that the record contains new data that does not match any existing sources; and a grey circle indicates comparison data was unavailable.
- Is information available at an address level?
The census block is the smallest unit of geography for which the Census Bureau makes records available, and in many parts of the country the census block is actually the neighborhood or city block. In some areas, census blocks are larger. For blocks larger than two square miles, we use a random point method to estimate broadband availability based on the road segment and address level data submitted to NTIA.
- Do the search results include broadband availability information for residences and businesses?
The National Broadband Map is intended to show broadband options that are generally available to customers, whether residential consumers or businesses. The service must be available to a customer within a typical service interval (by 7 to 10 business days) and without an extraordinary commitment of resources. The map is not intended to show specialized services for large businesses. For information to be included in the map, the provider must offer 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.
- Can I find broadband price information on the website?
No. Since pricing data can change frequently, the inclusion of prices in the map could be misleading to consumers. In addition, providers do not market their services in a uniform manner, making meaningful pricing comparisons difficult to supply. For example, providers may offer different speed tiers, service bundles, promotional pricing, or free equipment. The map includes links to the providers' websites so that consumers can learn directly about their current pricing options.
- What is the difference between "Rank" and "Summarize"?
The Rank tool allows you to compare broadband availability in different areas, while the Summarize tool will display all the broadband characteristics of a specific area.
- The demographic data on the National Broadband Map looks slightly different than the 2010 Census data. Why?
You may see slight variations in the demographic data (population, age, race) on the National Broadband Map when you compare it to the 2010 Census numbers. In order to match demographics with the broadband data collection date, the National Broadband Map uses estimates purchased from GeoLytics, a private company that provides population and demographic estimates at the block level.
- How is the percent population or housing units with broadband availability calculated for a given area?
The percentage of population or household units with broadband availability is calculated by dividing the population or number of household units with availability (in a given geography) by the total population or number of housing units in that particular geography. We derive the population and household units from census blocks using Geolytics 2009. For data that was provided at the road segment level, we use a methodology that relies on road density.
- I am interested in analyzing the data at the census block level, how do I do this?
While we derive all of the population and household statistics from the data at the census block or road segment level, you cannot rank or summarize a single block through the website. To analyze unique census blocks, download the data or use the APIs.
- How far down can I zoom on the maps?
- I only see a map for speed. Are other maps available?
Click "Show Map Gallery" to see the other maps. This button is located in the bottom right corner.
- How much data is included in the National Broadband Map?
The current round of data (accurate as of June 30, 2014), which includes information from 50 states, 5 territories and the District of Columbia, contains more than 20 million records. NTIA, in collaboration with the FCC, updates the website every six months with new data.
- Why was the map made?
In order to improve broadband access and adoption in America, we need better data on our broadband infrastructure. The National Broadband Map is an unprecedented database of information on high-speed Internet access. The map, which Congress mandated NTIA to develop, is used by policymakers, economic development agencies, industry, and others working to bridge the technological divide, and expand economic opportunities.
- Why is the default for the map and search functions set at 3 Mbps if the definition of broadband is 768 kbps?
The FCC's National Broadband Plan called for a minimum of 4 Mbps downstream and 1 Mbps upstream for all Americans. NTIA collected speed data across nine different speed tiers, one of which is for speeds between 3 Mbps and 6 Mbps. While NTIA still considers 768 kbps very basic broadband, applications are more accessible and usable at higher speeds, beginning with those in the 3-6 Mbps range. Though the 3-6 Mbps tier is the default, you can increase or decrease the speed tiers and see your results.
- The map of my provider looks different than the one I see in the store. Why?
You may see differences between how data is presented in any provider's store because of how we are defining broadband and because we only display those speeds advertised to reach greater than 768 kbps. Since providers may define broadband differently, they may show data packages at lower speeds. If you see that a provider is missing in a certain area, please let us know on the search results page.
- Where can I find definitions for the terms on the website?
The Broadband Classroom section of the site contains definitions for terms related to broadband, geography and crowdsourcing.
- How was the data for this website collected?
The data in this website was collected through NTIA's State Broadband Initiative. NTIA awarded grants that allow each state, territory and the District of Columbia to gather broadband availability information twice a year over a five-year period. Grantees took multiple approaches to both gather and validate the information contained in the dataset. Many broadband providers offered datasets to grantees to begin the process. In cases in which smaller providers did not have this data, grantees often helped these businesses develop a dataset or map of their data. After this, grantees often compared this data to existing state data, like aerial photography or third party data sources of availability and infrastructure. A number of states conducted community meetings to present the data to the public and take feedback on areas that may need improvement. In some cases, when provider data was not available to a grantee, grantees culled public records or other databases to develop a map of service availability. You can click on a search result and see the methodology used by each state grantee. These are also available through the data download section of the NBM.
Data releases since June 2014 are available on the FCC website.
- If the data was collected by every state, using many different methods, does that introduce inaccuracy?
States chose the methods that they thought would best help them validate information. We believe that the states know the most about broadband in their own geographies, and they were in the best position to decide the tools that would be the most effective for them to use. Of course data has never been collected at this level of granularity before, so each state is still determining its best practices. As national best practices develop, grantees will begin to use these.
- Does the National Broadband Map track or monitor users?
- Where do I find background about changes or corrections to this round of data?
The data download page contains several documents that provide context for this round of data, including a Changes and Corrections summary provided by each grantee, a data package per grantee that includes the list of providers contacted or included by each grantee. The zipped state file will also include each state's methodology.