Don Edmonston has complained about his DSL connection and how slow it’s been since he started using AT&T for his internet service as it was the only option at the time when he was living in his home located just north of Athens, GA. When his grandson would take classes online, they would freeze because of the slow connection during the pandemic. This was important because his grandson was doing school at home since he wasn’t able to attend classes in person.
Edmonston has worked in fiber optics before and offered to pay more if faster speeds were available. However, there are no companies in the area where he lives that offer the internet connection needed for faster internet. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has designed maps that give information about the internet services that are available to households across the country. These maps show something completely different as there are companies that provide faster service close to where Edmonston lives. There’s a fixed plan through T-Mobile that he’s eligible for through a wireless plan, but when Edmonston looked at the information available from T-Mobile, he found that service isn’t available.
It’s possible that the data is wrong or that the FCC isn’t able to understand how internet services work and where they are located in the country or even how technology works in the world today. With the passage of recent bills by the federal government, there should be a large amount of money invested in order to provide faster internet services to people like Edmonston as well as internet that’s reliable and affordable. There is one obstacle that the government needs to overcome, which is making sure the data that’s used by the FCC and other organizations is as accurate as possible. If the information is wrong, then no amount of money would be able to improve internet services as they would go to areas that already have the internet that they need instead of rural areas or those with low-income families.
The infrastructure bill that President Biden has been promoting allocates about $65 billion to broadband improvements. The goal is to try to make internet services just as important as electricity and water for households. Internet speeds should be fast enough for any household that wants the service so that family members can take classes online, work, access doctor’s visits, and enjoy forms of entertainment like watching TV series and movies on top streaming services without worrying about buffering or a lag in the signal. The funding should help companies provide internet service to families in the most remote areas as the goal is to reach households in the farthest miles of the country.
There have been issues with the maps that the FCC has used for a few years, but with the recent pandemic, the issues have been brought to light since more people have relied on proper internet services to perform basic activities. Several people including lawmakers and commissioners for the FCC have looked at the maps and admitted that there some of the data is overestimated, showing that there is a higher number of people in the country who have access to high-speed internet. Maps are designed based on information from the census, and if households are in an area that’s considered a census block, then they won’t show in the group and will read as a household that is served by a reliable internet source. If the maps aren’t updated, then the government funding can’t be used properly, which would mean that households would continue to go without adequate services that they need.