The National Telecommunications and Information Administration [NTIA], part of the US Department of Commerce, has released the National Broadband Map, a Web-accessible, searchable data base of broadband Internet service across the US. The creation of the database, which contains approximately 25 million records detailing broadband service options, was mandated by Congress. The data were collected from the various service providers; it is important to note that the service speeds claimed were, in general, not independently verified.
The announcement also contains some summary observations about the availability of high-speed service. In particular, there is still a significant group of Americans who have no high-speed options.
The map shows that between 5 – 10 percent of Americans lack access to broadband at speeds that support a basic set of applications, including downloading Web pages, photos and video, and using simple video conferencing. The FCC last July set a benchmark of 4 Mbps actual speed downstream and 1 Mbps upstream to support these applications.
The NTIA also says that many “community anchor” institutions, such as school and libraries, probably do not have adequate capacity to support a reasonable number of users.
The map allows you to enter an address, or a county, and see the available service options. It is obvious that some of the data may not be complete; I entered our address here, and our ISP was not listed. Still, this is the first release of the data, and some lacunae are to be expected.
The site offers a variety of ways to look at the underlying data. Ars Technica has an article outlining some of its capabilities.