Back in 2022, CR announced new findings from a first-of-its-kind nationwide participatory broadband study conducted to better understand the true cost of Broadband across the U.S. These findings are the result of our Fight for Fair Internet project – a year long effort that was launched in 2021 with participation from more than 40,000 community members and dozens of partner organizations across the country. Today, we’re continuing our Fight for a Fair Internet, and potentially helping you save some money on their broadband bill, by examining the new National Broadband Map.
The FCC released a new version of its National Broadband Map last November, and it received a major update in May. The map will determine how more than $42 billion in infrastructure monies will be spent to expand broadband coverage to un- and under-served communities – so making sure it is accurate down to the level of your neighborhood and your home is a critical step in getting funding where it is most needed.
The map as it currently exists is far from perfect – locations are missing and the information from providers about what types of broadband service are offered to consumers often doesn’t match the reality on the ground.
We’re working with The Markup to make sure the map accurately reflects which broadband providers service which neighborhoods, and what internet speeds consumers are offered. Their investigation already shows that the maximum speed offered by just one company can vary dramatically from block to block – or even house to house. What we don’t know is how those variations are showing up on the FCC’s map nor how widespread the errors might be.
We called on the CR community to test the map to make sure the FCC is getting it right. You can sign up here to test the FCC broadband map.
The map is an interactive tool that displays which companies offer connections to every household in the country, and the maximum speed for those connections. It tries to identify every location across the country capable of receiving broadband internet service, and what level of internet service, if any, a company can provide at that location. You can help fix errors on the map, play a part in reporting on over-promising and under-delivering ISPs, and help in guiding broadband funding to where it is most urgently needed.
We’re looking for information in five steps: (though not everyone will be able to complete all five*)
- Find your home on the map (and let us know if you don’t show up)
- Look at the providers claiming to offer you service.
- Go to the providers’ websites to compare their rates
- Let the FCC know if you find any errors
- Report back to Consumer Reports about what you found
As an added bonus, there’s a chance you could discover less expensive home internet service as part of this research project. Please join us on this important research project, and let’s continue our Fight for a Fair Internet!
*You may not be able to complete all of the 5 steps listed above. For example, if you discover your address is not listed on the FCC map, you can’t compare rates effectively at all. Above all else, this is a project to understand if and how the map is working. Even if you can’t make it through all the steps, your experiences will help us better evaluate the National Broadband Map.