How FCC Maps Contribute to the Rural Internet Problem

Countless numbers of rural households do not have access to broadband internet. The word ‘countless’ was used for a reason: no one knows the real number. That is partly due to state and local reliance on terribly inaccurate FCC coverage maps. Because the maps are so bad, efforts to determine how many people don’t have access to broadband are fruitless.

Across the country, states are pledging to bridge the tech divide by solving the rural internet problem. But rural America has been hearing such promises for a long time. Why do they rarely see fulfillment? Because as soon as states and counties commission studies to help them understand the problem, they discover they do not have reliable data.

The result is usually a study that doesn’t lead to any concrete proposals. A new study may be commissioned later, but it will achieve the same result. And so you have an ongoing cycle of local and state governments promising to fix the rural internet problem but never actually doing so.

Flawed FCC Measurements

Imagine conducting an internet study using FCC map data. You look at entire census blocks the FCC insists are served by broadband internet. What you do not know is that a single block can be designated as served if just one home in that block has broadband access.

How does the FCC arrive at such erroneous data? By allowing ISPs to report service based on a single customer per census block. If a company serves one household, they can claim service to the entire block, even if no other households in that block are connected. New York State and its Tompkins County discovered that not too long ago when they attempted to gather data that would help them understand the Empire State’s rural internet problem more thoroughly.

Wireless to the Rescue

It should be noted that most state and county efforts aimed at eliminating the tech divide take the approach of running wires to rural areas. In the bureaucrat’s mind, connecting everyone with the same wires is the only equitable solution. But there is a reason ISPs don’t put money into the rural infrastructure required to connect everybody.

What is that reason? There are not enough customers to make the investment worthwhile. But that doesn’t mean rural America has to be left out. There is a solution in wireless internet. Enter companies like Blazing Hog. is a Houston, TX company that provides high-speed rural internet using 4G cellular signals. They are one of several new rural 4G internet providers competing for customers in a market that is not as limited as many people believe.

Blanketing America with Coverage

Rural internet providers whose business models are based on 4G have the cellular phone industry to thank. That industry has done a masterful job of blanketing America with coverage over the last 20 years. There are far fewer areas without coverage as compared to those not served by wired broadband.

Things are getting even better for the wireless internet industry with the introduction of 5G. Still, 5G is not likely to provide much benefit to rural America for at least a while. But rural communities can still get high-speed internet access by going with a provider offering 4G internet.

It is too bad FCC maps make it nearly impossible to understand the depths of the rural internet problem in America. On the other hand, it is good to know that wireless internet providers don’t need FCC maps to do what they do. They are more than capable of offering rural 4G internet to anyone who wants it.

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