(The Center Square) – Missourians are encouraged to correct the FCC map showing broadband internet service by January 13, 2023, to ensure the state gets its share of $42 billion in federal funding.
The Department of Economic Development’s Office of Broadband estimates about $2.5 billion in federal funds could be made available to create or upgrade broadband infrastructure if Missourians make the necessary corrections to the map.
A statewide campaign was launched earlier this month to encourage all Missourians to participate in identifying potential service failures in various geographic areas. People can visit broadbandmap.fcc.gov and enter the address to determine the level of service available based on the map. Customers can click a link to challenge the map’s accuracy by reporting geographic locations with poor or no service.
“When we started looking at the map just a few weeks ago, I did what everyone seems to do — I looked at my home and the places I know best,” BJ Tanksley, director of the Office of Broadband, said in an earlier webinar. this month. “We want to ask everyone to do the same. Please check the areas you are familiar with as we try to secure the funding Missouri deserves as we work toward our goal of connecting all Missourians.
The FCC’s map will determine the distribution of future Broadband Equity, Access and Deployment (BEAD) programs. BEAD is part of the $550 billion Infrastructure, Investment and Jobs Act signed by President Joe Biden earlier this year.
Federal funding will only cover wired connections, including copper, cable and fiber, and wireless remains licensed. Underserved areas are considered the highest priority for funding and range from not having the appropriate technology to available download speeds of 25 megabits per second and upload speeds of 3 mbps. That speed allows two people and up to five devices to use the internet without delay, but it will use up almost all of the bandwidth to watch 4K streaming video, according to some industry experts.
Unserved areas eligible for funding will range from no suitable technology to 100 mbps download and 20 mbps upload speeds.
The Missouri broadband office estimates there are 319,991 unserved locations across the state and 176,975 unserved areas. Based on data from the initial version of the map, one unserved location is worth $5,000 in fees. If Missouri’s estimate is correct, it could result in $2.5 billion in federal funding.
“If you’ve been in the broadband conversation for the last 10 years, you know that mapping is one of the biggest issues we’re talking about,” Tanksley said. “Every Missourian has an opportunity to have a personal impact on it, and we really want to encourage people to actively look into it.”
Adam Thorp, community development specialist at the Office of Broadband Development, said Missourians need to identify homes and businesses that don’t have good access.
“The uncorrected version of the map, before anyone had a chance to examine it, showed half a million unserved and unserved locations,” Thorp said. “It’s going to be a lot of work to do even with this huge amount of money. So we really need to maximize this opportunity to achieve everything.”
Thorp also said the map allows consumers to file consumer complaints with the FCC if internet providers are improperly advertising their available service speeds.