LightBox Internet Coverage Map finds 4X as many unserved in U.S. then FCC report

LightBox has released its nationwide internet connectivity map, a first of its kind, showing that nearly 60 million Americans remain unconnected to the Internet. This new map layers the location of approximately two billion Wi-Fi access points on top of LightBox’s national Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric, which details the precise geospatial extent, address(es), occupancy classification, and number of business or dwelling units for structures across the United States.

LightBox said the map was created by combining the company’s granular location data with information from 2 billion different Wi-Fi access points. The result is a highly-detailed picture of broadband connectivity across the country.

LightBox Internet Connectivity Map, Census tract-level aggregate view. Red indicates very poor connectivity, orange poor connectivity, yellow ok connectivity, and green good connectivity. White areas indicate locations with no connectivity detected.

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Through its granular location fabric and geospatial expertise, LightBox says it has developed the necessary foundation for a true broadband availability map. Combined with ISP data on broadband serviceable locations, LightBox could produce a nationwide broadband connectivity map that would offer the most precise analysis of true accessibility.

“Accurate and granular maps based upon precise location data, serviceability, and analytics are required for government investment to be targeted and rapidly deployed to the communities in need,” says LightBox CEO Eric Frank. “LightBox has created this map based on our national Broadband Serviceable Location Fabric.  Geospatially overlaying Wi-Fi location data has identified the gaps in connectivity.  Whether the gaps are a function of lack of adoption or lack of service can now be tracked and appropriate remedies can be set in motion.”

LightBox has taken an approach which yields significantly greater precision. “We have combined two granular data assets to construct a precise view of connectivity in the US. This new map shows which structures have active internet and identifies connected structures with low adoption relative to the number of housing units. Where available, we can also layer in speed test data to understand where internet is operating below broadband speeds,” explained Zach Wade, VP of Data Science for LightBox. “What’s even more exciting is that we can update this view monthly to deliver an audit mechanism that tracks where and when new internet locations go online.”

The evolution of federal and state programs to map broadband with greater accuracy will allow government to apply rigor to complex broadband infrastructure design and investment—a process that Georgia, which produced the most granular broadband map to-date, has proven requires high-precision maps to execute accurately and equitably. “We simply couldn’t have built the master location fabric for broadband maps in Georgia without LightBox’s unparalleled data solutions,” said Bill Price, former Senior Strategist for Georgia, now VP of Government Solutions at LightBox. With LightBox support, Georgia was able to identify upwards of 400,000 additional unserved locations over traditional mapping approaches. LightBox can provide state-level mapping currently and encourages being informed of any updated locations not currently tracked.

The 60 million unconnected U.S. residents cited by LightBox is more than four times higher than the 14.5 million Americans the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said were unserved in its most recent Broadband Deployment Report. That FCC report included data through the end of 2019. In May, BroadbandNow released its own report which found 42 million Americans lack access to terrestrial broadband.

The FCC’s broadband coverage data and maps have long been a source of anger and indignation for many in the telecom industry, given both are used by the FCC and state-level officials to determine eligibility for broadband funding. The agency’s reliance on providers’ self-reported coverage statistics (known as Form 477 data) has repeatedly been highlighted as a key flaw.

An FCC official recently told Fierce Telecom it is in the process of collecting more granular data for fresh coverage maps. However, the release of new maps is likely a year or more away.

The map available on the LightBox website displays a nationwide view of internet connectivity rates across the country, aggregated at the Census tract level. Interested parties may contact LightBox for access to the complete map, which shows data down to each location.  For researchers seeking additional insights, LightBox has several hundred data layers that can be readily overlayed on this map.   Some of the more popular data sets leveraged by LightBox clients include demographic data, boundary data, purchasing data, internet speed test data, climate data, fiber location data and measuring tools.

Currently covering about 97 percent of the United States, LightBox is hard at work filling in the gaps, including for tribal lands and US Territories.

About LightBox:

LightBox is the world’s leading real estate information and technology platform. Through operational excellence and a passion for innovation, LightBox facilitates transparency, efficiency, insight, and prediction for real estate investment and location analytics. LightBox customers include commercial and government agencies requiring definitive real estate data and powerful workflow solutions, including brokers, developers, investors, lenders, insurers, technology providers, environmental consultants, and valuation professionals. LightBox is backed by Silver Lake and Battery Ventures.

For more information about LightBox services, contact Caroline Stoll at cstoll@lightboxre.com

References:

First Nationwide Internet Connectivity Map that Links Broadband Serviceable Locations and Wi-Fi Access Points

https://www.fiercetelecom.com/telecom/lightbox-beats-fcc-to-punch-fresh-broadband-map