CostQuest says NY locations missing from FCC broadband map a fraction of total count

New York State’s broadband office recently made headlines when it revealed it found more than 31,000 locations missing from the foundational fabric the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is using to produce new broadband coverage maps. But while that figure might seem like a lot, a CostQuest representative told Fierce that number amounts to less than 1% of the state’s total location count.

Back in March, the FCC hired CostQuest to provide a map of all the serviceable locations in the country over which the agency could layer coverage data supplied by operators. By combining the two, the FCC is aiming to create a more accurate accounting of unserved locations in each state.

The FCC unveiled an initial version of the fabric in September and opened the door for states, operators and other interested parties to challenge it. New York State took it up on the offer, stating it found 31,798 locations missing from the CostQuest-supplied fabric. The state identified the locations by comparing data from its own broadband maps to the FCC data. All of the 31,000-plus locations which were missing were among the 138,598 locations listed as unserved on the state’s map.

CostQuest VP Mike Wilson said the company couldn’t address whether the FCC would accept or reject New York’s challenge. But he noted the locations it identified represented “about 0.66% of the total of more than 4.7 million locations” it counted in the state for the first version of the fabric.

Wilson explained this figure falls “in line with what we would expect as a potential error rate” for the initial fabric. He added “Version 2 and future versions of the Fabric will bring continual improvements. Some of the improvements will come from our own efforts related to updated data, imagery and processes, and some will come from the participation from states and other parties in the challenge process established by the FCC.”

An FCC representative made a similar statement to Fierce, noting the agency is “committed to building maps that reflect the most accurate information available, and we expect this New York submission will help us to accomplish that goal.”

The New York challenge was notable because the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) is planning to use the FCC map to allocate funding from the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. Money is set to be divvied up based on the number of unserved locations in each state.

But it’s worth noting that the NTIA is not planning to use the first draft of the FCC map. NTIA chief Alan Davidson explicitly said last month it wanted to give states a chance to challenge the map to help make it more accurate before it is used to allocate funding.

An FCC representative previously told Fierce a second version of the location fabric which incorporates changes from the challenge process is expected to be released in December.