Maps Can Make or Break Communities’ Broadband Futures — Episode 152 of Building Local Power

Date: 2 Jun 2022 | posted in: Building Local Power | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

On this episode of Building Local Power, host Jess Del Fiacco is joined by members of ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks team: Ry Marcattilio-McCracken, Senior Researcher; Sean Gonsalves, Senior Reporter and Editor; and Christine Parker, GIS and Data Visualization Specialist. They discuss the importance of mapping for building broadband networks.

Highlights of their conversation include:

  • The many components of digital equity, and a new ILSR resource that explores each.
  • ILSR’s new “map of maps” that shows how states are going about mapping broadband availability differently.
  • How the big incumbent ISPs have used maps to keep potential competition at bay.

“Broadband is a utility. It is almost as important as electricity and water. High speed internet is so vital, it touches on every aspect of life.” -Sean Gonsalves

“The huge monopoly ISPs around the country have been very successful in confusing and obfuscating the mapping process to protect their monopoly territory.” -Ry Marcattilio-McCracken

“A given provider map could suggest that you have service but the reality could be very different when a customer buys a house and it looks like they should have service there but when they go to make that connection it could cost them thousands of dollars to get that connection built out or it may not be possible at all. ” -Christine Parker


Jess: Hello, welcome to Building Local Power, a podcast dedicated to thought-provoking conversations about how we can challenge corporate monopolies and expand the power of people to shape their own future. I’m Jess Del Fiacco, the host of Building Local Power and communications manager here at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. For more than 45 years, ILSR has worked to build thriving equitable communities, where power, wealth and accountability remain in local hands.
Jess: Hello. Today, I am joined by several of my colleagues from ILSR’s community broadband team. We’ve got Ry Marcattilio-McCracken, who is a senior researcher, Sean Gonsalves, who’s a senior reporter and editor. I know I’m giving slightly shortened versions of your titles, but I’m trying to keep it succinct. They do lots of things, but that’s Sean and Ry. Then we also have Christine Parker, who is a GIS and data visualization specialist on the broadband team. Welcome to the show, everybody.
Sean: Thank you for having us again.
Ry: Thank you.
Christine: Thank you.
Sean: I’m also the cheese connoisseur of the team.
Jess: Ah, I forgot the most important title of them all.
Jess: What we’re going to talk about today, well, we’re going to cover a few different things. First. We’re going to talk about a new resource about digital equity that ILSR has put together. It’s actually a series of different fact sheets. We’re also going to talk about broadband mapping and how maps are, in some cases for better and in some cases for worse, influencing who and where gets broadband funding.
Jess: I think we’re going to start things off with Sean. Can you tell us a little bit about the moment that we are in for broadband? There’s always a lot going on with broadband, but right now it seems like we’ve got particularly huge new buckets of funding. Just let us know where we’re at, what’s going on?
Sean: Exactly, you said it pretty well. I think where we are is, of course, after the pandemic, or I should say at the start of the pandemic, it really opened many people’s eyes to the fact that broadband is essentially a utility. It’s almost as important as electricity and water. High-speed internet access is just so vital, it touches on just about every aspect of life. Of course, when folks were working remotely and doing distance learning, it really brought it front and center for a lot of local communities who overnight had to deal with, in some locales, thousands of students who couldn’t do distance learning or were driving to Taco Bell parking lots to try to do schoolwork and things of that nature to get on Taco Bell wifi. It really brought to the fore the need for what I call the broadbandification of the United States, that’s where we are.
Sean: That need has been recognized at the highest levels of government. You have the American Rescue Plan Act, and more recently the Infrastructure and Investment in Jobs Act. In both of those pieces of federal legislation are tens of billions of dollars that can be used to deploy new broadband networks, to fund digital equity initiatives, digital inclusion work. Right now, in both the American Rescue Plan and the forthcoming money and the Infrastructure bill, states are gearing up to receive these huge buckets of cash, essentially, for the purposes of making high-speed internet ubiquitous, reliable and affordable.
Sean: States all across the country are establishing state broadband offices and grant programs. There are hundreds of communities who are now, in addition to the hundreds of communities who’ve already built these networks and who are far ahead of where some communities are trying to play catch up, there’s hundreds of communities now who are seriously considering building locally-accountable, publicly-owned broadband infrastructure in their communities. There’s now all of this attention.
Sean: Part of what we’ve been up to is not only tracking the progress of various communities in terms of planning and funding and so forth, there’s all these various tools out there, some of which we are creating, that we think can be tremendously useful for local communities. That’s some of the stuff that I think that we’ll get in today.
Sean: One thing I ought to mention is, also in this context, earlier this week there was an announcement made about a new advocacy group that was formed. It’s called the American Association of Public Broadband. It is an advocacy organization for, ran by, and really for local officials who are in charge of local broadband projects. It’s an advocacy organization that is going to be advocating on behalf of local, publicly-owned broadband infrastructure.
Sean: At the press conference, Bob Knight, one of the board members, talked about that they’re sort of model agnostic, which means that they’re advocating for local municipalities in terms of if they wanted to partner even with a large internet service provider, of course for municipal networks, where you’re building, owning and operating the network as a municipality, or advocating for public-private partnerships.
Sean: It’s an organization that’s very much needed, because when the American Rescue Plan Act was being formed and the Infrastructure bill was being formed, lawmakers almost exclusively heard from the big telecom lobby, who spend on the order of about $8 million a week in DC. This is an organization that’s very much needed and it’s very much now available for local leaders to tap into and to become members of, to advocate on their issues from a local perspective.
Jess: If we happen to have a listener who is a local official, or who is involved with their local government, how might they join? Is there a website? Who needs to sign on?
Sean: Exactly. They’re on all the social media platforms. Of course, you can go to and find the story, where there’s links to their various platforms, but their website is You can find out all about the officers, what their vision is, there’s also a page where you can sign up, there’s all the membership information. But it is a much needed organization. Certainly, as communities are trying to get their feet wet or get a better understanding of the lay of the land, and particularly in coordinating with state lawmakers and state broadband offices, it’s well worth looking at,
Jess: Very cool. Thank you so much, Sean.
Jess: Ry, I think we’re going to turn to you to talk about this new digital equity resource, but first, could you give our listeners a definition of what digital equity means? When we say digital equity, what different things are we talking about?
Ry: Sure. I’ll crib from the National Digital Inclusion Alliance’s definition here because it’s so good. Digital equity, broadly speaking, is a multifaceted project to make sure that every single household, every single apartment building, every single senior living center, everyone across the country has access to the information technology capacity that they need to participate fully in society, in democracy and in the economy. Digital equity is necessary for civic and cultural participation, I’m cribbing right from NDI’s website here, lifelong learning, access to essential services, all the things that make up being a resident of the United States today and tomorrow.
Ry: They also note here the difference between equity and equality. Using the word digital equity acknowledges that there are historically instantiated and substantial structural barriers to making sure that everybody has access to the internet in an equal way and that we have to work to dismantle those structures, which have been in place for a long time.
Jess: Thank you. I think that’s helpful context for folks. These new fact sheets that we’ve published, can you give an overview of, there’s I’m going to guess six of them, five, six of them?
Ry: Six. Great guess.
Jess: Okay. You’d think I’d remember since I just looked at it about an hour ago. Why is it a series and who are they for?
Ry: Sure. I’m the one talking about these for simplicity’s sake, but they were put together by a much larger team obviously. This was in partnership with AARP’s Livable Communities program, which is a great initiative if anybody listening hasn’t heard of them yet. They work directly with cities and local advocates and nonprofits to do things like build age-friendly housing and transportation options and expand access to community services and make sure that residents of all ages in a community have had the opportunity to participate fully in community life.
Ry: They give out a lot of small grants all around the country. This fact sheet series was put together in support of their work on connectivity issues. We had help in writing a few of them from NDIA as well, the National Digital Inclusion Alliance, who does wonderful research and policy and on-the-ground work related to digital inclusion.
Ry: Yes, there are six fact sheets, and they hit the most important issues and policy impacts of those issues and the consequences on the ground for things like building new network infrastructure. Sean mentioned these tens of billions of dollars in federal funds coming down the pipeline, which are going to start flowing to the states theoretically later this year or early next year. There’s definitely a need for local policy makers who’ve got a lot of different things on their plate and are looking for maybe a quick primer when something related to broadband comes around.
Jess: It seems like if we messed this up in this moment in not planning for digital equity as all this money’s flowing down to us that we’d possibly never make up for that missed opportunity.
Ry: For sure. I don’t think it’s an overstatement to say that this is a once-in-a-generation amount of money devoted to solving broadband issues, whatever models those solutions ultimately take, but certainly we’re not going to see something in the near future. It’s important to get things right now so we don’t waste that money and we don’t waste this opportunity.
Ry: This fact sheet series includes a basic introduction to the most important policy and legislative and deployment issues of today, the challenges that communities might face. There’s one on what broadband is, how do we define broadband, what are the different challenges when we’re talking about access or availability or affordability, there are fact sheets on digital skills, and one on expanding device availability too, because when we’re talking about digital equity, people talk about a three-legged stool, and if you don’t have one of those legs built in place, then the stool is just going to fall over. It’s important not only that people have access to the internet, but that they can afford that access on a monthly basis, but then also that they’ve got the skills and devices necessary to fully take advantage of that connection.
Jess: That’s great. You mentioned local policy makers, but I was wondering, as you created these fact sheets, is that the audience you’re targeting? When we’re thinking about building digital equity in a given community, who are the key stakeholders that need to be involved in that to make it reality? Who might benefit from these fact sheets?
Ry: Sure. They’re written in a way for anybody to understand. I think local government officials, state legislators, and non-profits will get a lot of mileage out of them. As I mentioned, these are people who are on the ground, they’re engaged in local governance right now and they’ve got a lot of stuff on their plate, whether it’s infrastructure related or not, so we don’t expect them to be broadband experts when something comes to their table. The idea here is that every community is a little bit different. Whether you’re dealing with an affordability issue in a particular neighborhood and you’re a nonprofit dedicated to solving that particular thing, there’s something there for you, or maybe you’ve got an access problem in one part of town and maybe your city council or your mayor has been trying to get the ISP in that area to expand access there for a long time. There are some real challenges, some of them structural and some of them more easily overcome, and so the fact sheet series breaks this down in a relatively accessible and understandable way for anybody who needs them.
Sean: I would just also add, in addition to what Ry is saying, is that while that particular audience is particularly important, some local leaders and stakeholders and what have you, certainly there are secondary audiences where I think these are extremely useful. I mean, for anybody, really, who’s looking for introduction to broadband 101, these fact sheets can go a long way in helping folks wrap their mind around the different issues that are at stake.
Sean: Also, we were also keeping in mind that while it is a partnership essentially with AARP, who created a landing page for these, as we did as well, that there is also a need to reach folks in my age bracket and older. I won’t say exactly how old I am, but I’m pretty close to official AARP membership, maybe I’m even eligible now, I don’t quite know. But the point is that there’s quite a few Americans, like myself, who were born in the pre-internet era and some of this stuff is foreign, some of these concepts and the importance of it.
Sean: One thing in particular, and this is true for all ages, but certainly as you get on in life and the more you may need access to healthcare, there’s also the telehealth piece, which is another important reason, I would say, for broadband adoption. There’s some real untapped potential there as it relates to telehealth and in staying in your home, as opposed to, in later life, being in some kind of nursing home or something along that. I think most Americans, I think we even cite this in one of the fact sheets, prefer to be at home even into what we call the golden years. There’s those audiences as well.
Sean: But we mentioned AARP, but certainly the Livable Communities’ vision is one about creating communities that are livable for all ages. I do think that there are the man and woman on the street who may be looking for an introduction to understand some of these things, these fact sheets can be extremely helpful.
Jess: All right, thank you guys. Just in case I forget to say it at the end of the show, we will have all these fact sheets linked in the show notes for this episode, so you can find everything at Don’t feel like you need to take notes as we talk necessarily, although you’re welcome to do that if you’re so inclined.
Jess: I think we’re going to move along and talk with you, Christine, about the work you’ve been doing around broadband mapping. I know you recently published this really interesting article for ILSR, it’s called the United States of Broadband, and it also features a map of maps, a map of broadband maps across the country. Can you give us first the bird’s eye view of why is mapping so important when it comes to broadband?
Christine: Sure. The genesis of this article and map came together as I was writing the story because the FCC has developed this new broadband data collection and with it will come new maps. There’s a lot we don’t know yet about this new system and my intention was to develop a primer on it and what the maps will theoretically look like in the long run and what will be different or what will be the same. As I got further into this project, I found myself wishing that I had a source of all these state maps so I could talk about them, others could talk about them, so we could know what’s going on across the country. Then I had one of those wonderful light bulb moments and decided to just dig in and I made a map of maps. That was the genesis of this.
Christine: Why the mapping itself is so important, I guess there’s a lot of reasons, but specifically when we’re thinking about broadband and all the infrastructure money that we’ve been talking about and hearing about lately is because, as I understand it, some of this money is contingent on prioritizing where unserved and underserved locations are. If we don’t know where those are, it’s going to be really hard to prioritize where that money’s going to go for infrastructure builds. That is one step that the states are taking on themselves, because this new system that the FCC is working on is up in the air as to when it’s going to be available and when we’ll see those maps.
Christine: The states, and correct me if I’m wrong, Ry and Sean, but I believe this is the first time the states will be in charge of issuing these funds, in terms of infrastructure and things like that. They’ll be making the decisions and so it makes sense for them to be taking it upon themselves to get going on making their own maps rather than waiting for the FCC to publish theirs, because we still don’t know exactly when that’s going to happen.
Ry: If I could hop in, Christine, yeah, just to add to that. That’s all wonderful. I wanted to just make sure it was clear that the reason some states are jumping in to the mapping game is because one of the FCC’s central charges is to know where broadband is and is not available around the country, and at what speeds, theoretically. This has been their job for many, many years. They have, generally speaking, done a pretty bad job at it, at the same time that the huge monopoly ISPs around the country have been very successful in confusing and obfuscating the process to protect their monopoly territory. There’s all this federal money coming down the pipeline. The FCC’s current maps have largely not been successful in driving good policy solutions, and so because a lot of the new money is going to be going through the states, some of those states have said, “We’ve had enough from waiting for the FCC, it’s time to do this job ourselves.”
Jess: I just want to provide a quick definition. I’m guessing folks know, but FCC is the Federal Communications Commission, if you’re wondering what that stands for. In terms of unserved and underserved areas, unserved would be areas that have absolutely no internet access options available to them and underserved-
Ry: Unserved addresses don’t have access to the internet at a speed of 25/3 megabits per second, which is what we consider basic broadband today. Then underserved addresses, when we talk about those, we typically mean those that have access to a connection capable of 25/3, but less than 100/20 megabits per second. An unserved address could barely do a Zoom call and an underserved address can do some stuff, but can’t unlock the full potential of the internet.
Sean: Right, and not that reliability and all things about your connectivity. As Doug Dawson likes to point out, most people don’t really care what speed they have or what, or even know what speed they do have, but the reason why these things are important is because they’re sort of, I guess, a ballpark metric in terms of the quality of the connection and doing basic things like, during the pandemic, when people were realizing, “Oh my goodness, I can’t be on a work Zoom call and my child be on a Zoom at the same time,” this is the type of stuff that we’re talking about. It talks about the quality of the connection and how much information can be downloaded and uploaded. Increasingly, these apps and software that we’re using require more and more bandwidth, and so that’s the reason why these things are super important.
Sean: As both Ryan and Christine pointed out, if we don’t know precisely where their connectivity problems are, it’s hard to pinpoint where to spend the money and to make wise choices about broadband. One of the reasons why the FCC maps, as an example, have been so notoriously inaccurate is because of the self-reporting of the large internet service providers, which, for example, they can say that if one particular home on an entire census track theoretically could get service from them, previously, that whole entire census track is considered to be served. In reality, that’s not the case. This stuff becomes really important if you want to spend taxpayer money responsibly and really target the areas that need it most.
Jess: Thank you, guys. I think that was a little bit of extra helpful context as we’re talking about maps of maps.
Jess: We’ll be right back after a very short break.
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Jess: Christine, I’m wondering if as you were doing this research and writing this article, is there anything you could point to, as far as what the states are doing, that is either really good, maybe not so good, or just interesting different things happening between the states?
Christine: Yeah. That was something we tried to highlight in the map of maps itself. When you look at it, we have a gradient of green. The darker green, we are highlighting the states that are using something referred to as broadband serviceable locations in their maps. This term just refers to any location premise in the state that could receive an internet connection. It doesn’t mean it has it yet, but it could receive it. This, theoretically, should make future maps more accurate because we’re not relying on ISPs just to tell us broadly where they’re providing service or where they say they’re providing service. Theoretically, it gives providers guidelines over which they will be illustrating their service areas, if that makes sense.
Christine: Something else states are doing, they’re reporting they’re using speed test data from households that they’re collecting themselves. They’re also using a couple national speed test data, open source speed test data sources, like Ookla and-
Ry: Measurement Lab.
Christine: Measurement Lab, yes. Ookla and Measurement Lab are a couple open source speed tests that the states are pulling data from. Some states are still just using the outdated 477 information from the FCC. Then some other interesting things that I noticed in maps, I believe it was Pennsylvania actually had the power poles across their whole state mapped, which is interesting, because in some cases they can overlay the fiber on these power lines. In places where drilling into the ground is not a possibility, overlaying may make things a lot easier and potentially cheaper, in my mind at least. It’s a really interesting idea, I think, to include those kinds of things. I don’t know that I’ve seen other states include that yet, but maybe in the future as they see what others are doing. That was the idea here, is to crowdsource the mapping ideas.
Ry: I just wanted to say that while what Christine just said is one of the primary reasons that this map of maps exists, I think we hear all the time from people around the country they know that broadband connectivity is a problem in their state, but they don’t know what other states are doing to solve it. This is a one-stop shop where you can go and look at the map and at a glance it tells you not only which states are doing really well and which ones haven’t done anything at all, so like a name and shame thing going on there to light a fire under people to get going, but they can say, for the states that are doing a good job, what are they doing that we can copy here? They can look at Pennsylvania’s maps and say, “Okay, they’re not only collecting location-level data or household-level data from these providers, but then they’re also adding in maybe where state or federal funds have been allocated for projects. That gives us a more complete picture of where broadband is and isn’t in that state and maybe we can copy that too.”
Ry: The map of maps also has a link for each state that is doing something map related that links out to that state’s broadband mapping website. Not only do you get to see a description of what that state’s doing, but you can say, “Let’s go to that link and let’s look at it and see what kind of good stuff we can copy from it and grab some good ideas from over there and bring them over here.”
Christine: Yes, exactly.
Jess: Hey, very cool. Interesting to hear how the states are learning from each other. Would you say that the federal level, is the FCC also looking at what states are doing to inform the updates that they might make? It sounds like the states aren’t necessarily waiting on the FCC, they’re like, “We’re doing our own thing and we’re solving this problem,” but I’m wondering if there was any interplay between those two levels.
Christine: From my perspective, it seems to be happening in tandem. There’s a couple companies that have been developing what’s known as the fabric. It’s essentially a a map layer that’s displaying these broadband serviceable locations. These companies have developed their own ways of creating these layers based on a bunch of different data sets, like tax maps, spatial imagery, postal address data. There’s a few other sources that they’re using to compile and create this location data source. Some states have already done this before the FCC made this move, they’re ahead of the game in that way. Georgia is a good example and I believe Montana has done the same thing. It seems just to be all happening along the same timeline, except the FCC is trying to do it across the whole nation so naturally it’s going to take a little bit longer because in some of these data sets the there’s a lot of detail and there’s going to be inherent issues to work out as they work through the whole nation’s address list, basically.
Jess: This could be a question for you, Christine, or for Sean or Ry, you all have mentioned a couple of times how the existing maps have been weaponized by the big incumbent ISPs to basically keep competition at bay, to keep other providers from potentially taking on these underserved territories. I’m curious if you could talk about, A, if there’s anything else you want to say about what’s been happening, and also the ways in which these newer maps might prevent that problem or address that issue in some ways.
Christine: I can start, and if you guys want to fill in any blanks I leave behind. Yeah, the current process for ISPs is to submit where they currently provide service and also include locations or areas where they also could provide service within a reasonable timeframe. I believe the current timeframe is something like 10 days. I think that’s a reasonable ask, but the problem with that is that those data, when they’re all put together, are indistinguishable from each other. A given provider map could suggest that you have service, but the reality could be very different when a customer buys a house, it looks like they could or they should have service there, but when they go to make that connection or request a connection, it could cost them thousands of dollars to get that connection built out or it may not be possible at all. The reality is often, unfortunately, very different from what we’re seeing in the data because of this.
Christine: Unfortunately, that particular setup in the submission process is not changing. I haven’t witnessed it directly, but I know others have written about situations where these big monopoly providers have used those data to challenge new broadband projects, because they’re able to claim that they already provide service in places. It’s problematic for these new providers that would like to start a new service and provide some competition for the local community, but the incumbent provider is like, “No. See? We already provide that service here, so no.” Very unfortunate.
Ry: Yeah, that’s the kicker right there. Even independent of all the federal money coming down the pipeline, there have been state broadband grant programs all around the country for years and years and years.
Ry: If you can imagine, part of the problem is if a county knows it’s got a connectivity problem in the western half of the county and they’ve got a local ISP that wants to help them solve that problem and they want to put together a couple different pots of money to go out there and connect 500 or 1,000 homes and they need some state money to do it because these are super rural areas, we’ve seen time and time again instances where they might put together a grant application for the state and then one of the monopoly providers comes in and says, “No, no, I serve that location. That’s already been done,” or, “I’m getting money from some other grant program to get there eventually at some point along the way.” Then those grant applications fail, and those people are stuck with whatever connection they’ve got, or eventually that grant might be successful, but it’s delayed the process of getting those households the connectivity they need.
Ry: One of the key points of this new FCC broadband fabric that Christine’s been talking about is that it contains a challenge process that lets states say, “You see all these data points that these ISPs have entered as being addresses that they serve? Well, we know they actually don’t serve there,” or, “We know that the service that they provide there is much, much slower than what they’re reporting to you, or it’s much less reliable.” The fact that challenge process exists is, in our eyes, I think, a good and necessary step to letting local organizations and states bring the money that they have to bear to rectify a lot of the broadband gaps which have persisted in this country for so long.
Jess: Sean, anything you want to add?
Sean: Man, no, no, no, no. That was exactly on point. I think it’s right to highlight how we think of maps as these neutral things, but in this particular context, they’ve been weaponized, particularly as a tool to stave off competition. If you’re a monopoly provider, you don’t want competition and so you’re going to use whatever tools that are out there to help you maintain your monopoly. That’s what’s been done previously with the maps. The challenge is to be able to cut through all of that noise and have real data in terms of precisely where connectivity challenges are. Particularly as it relates to the challenge process, even within state grant programs, to have a better sense so you don’t have an ISP come in and claim that they’re either currently serving an entire swath of an area or about to, when in fact they’re not.
Jess: I’ll just say, as a geography major, one of the first textbooks they had us read was how to lie with maps. Maps are never a neutral thing. If you’re actually looking at who created the data, where’d the data come from, they’re all telling a story in some way or another.
Jess: Ry, I think you had something you wanted to jump in with.
Ry: Sure. I just wanted to leave the conversation, as we wrap up, with just two thoughts, which is people might be thinking while this is a big map at the federal level or the states are doing things and that process we know takes a long time, so what can we do to make progress today and tomorrow and next week? Organize a speed test in your community yourself, put together the tools and start to solicit speed test from around your community. You’ll get a sense of where the problem areas lie and where they don’t.
Ry: But the second thing, and equally important, is we’ve been talking about maps, and maps are important, they tell stories that are necessary for policy things, but also, if you’re a local leader or city council and you know that there’s a problem, you don’t have to wait for a map to start implementing a solution. You know where the connectivity gaps are in your community, probably people are calling city hall all the time complaining about their internet connection being out or that they are stuck on a bad connection and remain stuck. Do something about it. You don’t have to wait for the maps to get done to initiate a pilot project and start bringing those connections to bear, and then using that momentum to build towards bigger things down the road.
Sean: One last footnote, because I can’t help myself, as it relates to maps and doing something, that Ry was just talking about. One thing also I think folks should consider in terms of making sure that this is done as well as it can, is that as it relates to the infrastructure bill, every state is going to get I think it’s a hundred million for broadband. Then, on top of that, they’re going to get more money based on the amount of unserved locations. If the mapping stuff isn’t right, that means potentially there’s certain states that could be leaving a lot of money on the table that should be coming to the state that they won’t get access to because the map makes it seem as if there isn’t as much of a problem as it really is on the ground.
Christine: Yeah. I just had one more point I wanted to make too one. Something that Ryan mentioned earlier as one new feature of the broadband data collection is a challenge process. This is something that municipal governments, tribal governments, and state governments can participate in if they want to submit their own version of broadband data or if they’re finding disagreement with the provider submitted data. By starting to document where services is, like Ry said, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy, you can just start crowdsourcing your own speed test data, communities will stand a better chance to challenge these big internet providers, they can take it into their own hands.
Ry: Christine built this map, it’s super cool. It’s not something we’ve ever done before. We’ll put the link in the show notes, but it’s Go check it out.
Jess: Yeah. Thanks, everybody. I think as Sean mentioned, I mentioned earlier, there’s so much going on. It’s such an exciting time and it feels like such an important moment for you guys to be producing these resources. You’re putting the tools out there to make sure that we get it right and that we’re not recreating existing problems in the solutions that we’re trying to build. Very cool to hear about all this. Thank you, guys, for sharing.
Christine: Thank you for having us.
Ry: Thanks for having us.
Sean: Yes, yes, thank you.
Jess: Thank you for tuning in into this episode of the Building Local Power podcast from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. You can find links to everything discussed today by going to and clicking on the show page for this episode, that’s
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Jess: This show is produced by me, Jess Del Fiacco, and edited by Drew Birschbach. Our theme music is Funk Interlude by Dysfunction_AL. For the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, I’m Jess Del Fiacco, and I hope you’ll join us again in two weeks for the next episode of Building Local Power.



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Audio Credit: Funk Interlude by Dysfunction_AL Ft: Fourstones – Scomber (Bonus Track). Copyright 2016 Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial (3.0) license.

Photo Credit: iStock

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