FCC’s challenge process impacts local broadband funding
Wayne County residents have the opportunity to shape the county’s broadband future.
The Federal Communications Commission has used broadband provider data to create a map listing broadband availability for addresses across the country. In a unique opportunity, the FCC is allowing residents to verify the availability listing for their addresses and file challenges if the information is incorrect.
Residents participating by the Jan. 13 deadline will impact how the FCC allocates $42.45 billion for nationwide broadband projects.
“It really is important” that Wayne County residents participate, said Acacia St. John, the program director for Forward Wayne County, which organizes the Wayne County Broadband Task force. “We know that in Wayne County there are some broadband deserts. We recognize that from the survey that we did in 2021.”
Contrary to the results compiled from about 1,500 participants during that study, broadband providers indicate Wayne County is fully covered.
“This is really the opportunity for the rest of us to say, Hold on,” St. John said. “This is the first time the FCC has allowed the residents to challenge the process.”
The FCC will then take what it learns and distribute funding to states. Indiana will funnel money to Wayne County. St. John said the county has been underfunded by the state’s Next Level Connection program. During the third round of broadband project awards in April, Charter Communications, Comcast and New Lisbon Broadband received project funding to impact Wayne County broadband availability.
“What we saw is Wayne County got a little bit of money, but nothing compared to other counties, and yet we know we have great need,” St. John said.
The challenge process allows county residents to prove that need to the FCC and state.
Residents wishing to check the FCC’s broadband for their address and possibly file a challenge should:
- Go online to https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/home;
- Enter their address in the search bar;
- Verify the address that appears on the screen;
- Hit the “Location Challenge” link;
- Verify the provider information; and
- If the provider information seems incorrect, hit the “Availability Challenge” link.
A video about the process is also available:
Charter Communications and Comcast continue Wayne County fiber optic installations through previously funded Next Level Connections and FCC Rural Digital Opportunity Fund projects. St. John said she remains in contact with the providers as they work in Wayne County. Charter and Comcast continue working with utility companies to secure access for their fiber optic lines. Charter’s project is expected to provide access to about 4,000 residences and businesses.
“Things are going well with the providers,” St. John said, expecting additional broadband project phases within the county coming online during the second quarter of 2023.