NASHVILLE – Fiber Connect 2022 – The $42.45 billion Broadband, Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) grant program launched by the NTIA last month reserves $100 million for each state to build out broadband, with remaining funds to be distributed based on need.
That "need" will be determined by a new federal broadband map that the FCC is creating in collaboration with CostQuest, an economic modeling firm specializing in broadband deployment. States and territories wishing to get BEAD funding will draw up broadband buildout plans based on how many locations are still unserved (lacking access to 25/3Mbit/s service) or underserved (lacking access to minimum speeds of 100/20 Mbit/s).
We caught up with CostQuest CEO James Stegeman at Fiber Connect to discuss the work the company is doing to quantify the digital divide in the US and why he's confident the new map will be more accurate than the data the FCC has been using.
While the new FCC map won't be released until the fall, Stegeman said CostQuest's data modeling shows that 23-25 million homes and small businesses are still unserved or underserved by broadband in the US. That exceeds the most recent FCC estimate released in 2020, which put the number of Americans without broadband access at 14.5 million.
Here are a few topics discussed in this video:
- Background on CostQuest and its work with the FCC (00:20)
- How the new broadband map will differ from what the FCC currently uses (04:03)
- Challenges in the data collection process (07:47)
- Timeline for delivering the new map (09:05)
- What technology goes into successfully mapping broadband (10:00)
- Estimated size of the digital divide (13:50)
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— Phil Harvey, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading; and Nicole Ferraro, Site Editor, Broadband World News