The FCC has added nearly 3M new locations to its broadband map

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Thursday provided a slew of updates on the progress of its national broadband map.The agency has added 2.96 million new broadband-serviceable locations to the map as a result of its challenge process, though revisions also resulted in some locations being dropped from the map.

According to FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, the map’s updated “location fabric” now reflects over 114 million locations, a net increase of 1.04 million. Some of the most significant location increases came from Alaska, U.S. territories and tribal lands.

At the same time, the FCC removed 1.92 million locations from the first version of the map released last November. Reasons for the removals ranged from “data refreshes to more sophisticated tools to help remove structures like garages and sheds from the total count,” said Rosenworcel in a release.

The FCC map consists of two datasets: locations and availability. The location fabric indicates where fixed broadband could be installed, whereas the availability dataset, as the name suggests, shows what broadband services are actually available at the fabric locations. CostQuest, the FCC’s mapping vendor, is responsible for supplying location information.

Last month, Rosenworcel revealed the FCC received 1.11 million location challenges to the first iteration of its map. It has now moved on to availability challenges, with Rosenworcel stating Thursday the FCC has processed challenges to availability data for over 4 million locations.

“On average, we are addressing availability challenges to tens of thousands of locations every single day,” Rosenworcel said. “Every two weeks, our public map is updated to reflect all availability challenges that have been resolved.”

Accuracy for the map is critical, as the second full version of the map – once it’s released – will be used to calculate state allocations for the $42.5 billion Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) Program. The NTIA is aiming to announce state awards by June 30, 2023.

Rosenworcel said the FCC remains on track to release “new and improved maps” later this spring, though she didn’t provide an exact timeframe.

She added that to-date, stakeholders – mainly state officials – have provided more than 600 bulk challenges covering provider-reported availability at several million locations. The chairwoman previously stated nearly 122,000 new locations were added due to successful challenges from states.

Providers were required to submit their most recent availability data by March 1. Challenges to the current location fabric needed to be filed by March 15 to have the best chance of being included in the map's next iteration.