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Telecom Company-Influenced Broadband Availability Map Hurts Mississippi Broadband Expansion

This FCC broadband coverage map depicts broadband service gaps in orange.

This FCC broadband coverage map depicts broadband service gaps in orange.

According to broadband coverage maps drawn from data provided by telecommunications companies across Mississippi, high speed Internet service is available just about everywhere in the state.

Only it isn’t.

Now one Public Service Commissioner is going public warning broadband expansion funding is in jeopardy because the Federal Communications Commission is relying on faulty map data.

Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley told the DeSoto Times-Tribune things are not nearly as rosy as some providers would have you believe.

“The maps the FCC have are just plain wrong,” Presley said. “Their maps show that Mississippi is almost completely covered and that is certainly not the case. Getting this corrected is a top priority so that Mississippi can get its fair share of funding to cover these areas for residents and businesses.”

The implications for DeSoto County, Mississippi’s fastest growing county, are profound.

Thanks to map data volunteered by service providers that suggest virtually the entire state already has access to broadband, federal assistance funding for expanding Internet access may be off-limits. Most assistance programs require that areas be unserved to avoid duplicating existing service.

“Currently, the map vastly overstates the broadband coverage in the state,” Presley said. “While the map shows neighboring states with extensive underserved areas, Mississippi appears with nearly universal coverage.”

The FCC’s map of unserved areas depicts Mississippi as a broadband outlier in the southern United States, with far more service options than other nearby southern states. Digging deeper reveals major problems with the FCC’s data.

For instance, the state’s map reveals much of Mississippi is covered by wireless providers like AT&T, C-Spire, and Verizon. But those companies offer only limited data plans at high prices that are not equivalent to traditional wired broadband from a cable or phone company. A company called Callis Communications is depicted as providing a large part of the state with DOCSIS 3 cable modem service, when in fact Callis markets cloud-services to business customers and does not operate a cable company.

Most of Mississippi’s broadband connections from cable companies and AT&T are in larger communities including Tupelo, Jackson, Meridian, Gulfport, Hattiesburg and Biloxi. That leaves large sections of central and western Mississippi with significant service gaps.

Presley said his office is working to correct the FCC’s National Broadband Map, but with federal spending cutbacks looming, it may already be too late.

“Without this assistance, rural communities will continue to be left behind as small businesses, health care and emergency services will be left without necessary access to the Internet,” Presley told the newspaper.

WLOX in Biloxi reports Mississippi officials are scrambling to correct faulty broadband map data with the FCC so the state can qualify for broadband expansion funding.  (2 minutes)

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  • Ian Littman: One catch here is that Comcast's own xfinitywifi network is *not* available to CableWiFi customers; you have to have a Comcast account to use it or pa...
  • Josh: I don't know how anyone passes laws like that, or upholds them or whatnot with a straight face. It couldn't possibly be more blatantly because you're...
  • Paul Houle: This is a sad day. Many of the states involved with these fights are the ground zeroes of the broadband struggle. While Wheeler pursues suburban p...
  • Lee: Ah the magic of corporate debt to pay dividends. They are not the first nor will they be the last to use debt to pay dividends....
  • Jackripper: What bs so now we are stuck with limited services and no consumer choice. Like mobs owning their own domain. How thuggish....
  • Josh: Still totally irrelevant so long as they have laughably tiny caps....
  • Derpson: Just ran speedtest on my galaxy s7, got a blazing 8/1. They need more towers next!...
  • Phillip Dampier: A paid subscription is required to access the article in question which is why you are probably having an issue. I have captured a screenshot which is...
  • Paul Houle: @rcxb, it could be worse. You could live in Frontier Country where you pay $90 a month for phone + 1 Mb/s DSL. Fiber prices for smoke signal s...
  • jhf5: I wonder what is in store for New York, wondering if 100Mb/ s will be standard service or not, NYSPC requirements say 100 required, though I am not su...
  • rcxb: Does anybody else remember back when AT&T DSL was $12.99/mo? Sure it was only 1.5Mbps, but I'm sure plenty of people would go for that speed at t...
  • Mike The Great: All I can say is LOL!...

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