East Texans Who Want Reliable Internet Need to Take Action Now
The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease
I've never been a huge fan of that cliche. I don't like to complain because it just seems to be a negative thing to do, and I like to be an optimist.
However, sometimes, letting your grievances be known is the smart play, and that is exactly the case when it comes to getting reliable broadband service to your rural location.
What You See May Not Be What You Get
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently released a new map showing what it believes are the types and speeds of internet service that are now available to every household in Deep East Texas. The map was built with information from internet providers, including those in our region.
Rural leaders from throughout Texas have voiced concerns that the map exaggerates the actual service available to Texans, especially those in rural communities. According to officials at DETCOG (Deep East Texas Council of Governments), it is imperative that area residents either verify or challenge any inaccuracies provided for specific addresses on this map. Otherwise, those in charge at the federal level will assume that the information provided about rural fixed broadband services is correct. As a result, many households that do not have reliable broadband service will be overlooked.
DETCOG is working on a region-wide bulk challenge; however, individual household challenges are an important part of this process.
First Step, Access the Map
To look at your residence on the map, go to: https://broadbandmap.fcc.gov/home. Households that do not have internet access can get help at their local library or use the WIFI at a local fast-food restaurant or another free WIFI provider.
Enter Your Address
On the home page, you can place your address in the “search by address” window, which will show your location on the map. It will also show the 'reported' fixed broadband internet providers at your home and the type of service each provides.
When and How to Submit a Challenge
Challenges can be submitted for various reasons including that the provider denied a request for service, demanded excessive connection fees, or failed to schedule an installation within 10 business days of a request. Once a challenge is filed, providers are required to review the challenge and either concede or dispute it within 60 days.
Reasons you can submit an availability challenge as described by the Texas Broadband Office include:
- Provider failed to schedule a service installation within 10 business days of a request.
- Provider did not install the service at the agreed-upon time.
- Provider requested more than the standard installation fee to connect this location.
- Provider denied the request for service.
- Provider does not offer the technology or service type at this location.
- Reported speed is not available for purchase.
- Subscribed speed is not achievable. (Individuals only can select this option (on the map), but it won't create a challenge.)
- No wireless signal is available at this location.
- New, non-standard equipment is required to connect this location.
If one of the services listed on the map is not actually offered to the selected location, or if the providers listed do not actually serve your location, you can submit an availability challenge.
Tabs for 'location challenge' or 'availability challenge' are located on the map. The Texas Broadband Development Office has also provided more details on how to submit a challenge at https://comptroller.texas.gov/programs/broadband/communities/maps/fcc/. As many who most need the service may not be able to get onto the internet to complete the task, you may contact DETCOG at 936-634-2247 for help.
Why is this so important?
More than $40 Billion from the Federal Government will soon be sent to states to expand internet connections. The new FCC map will determine how that money is allocated among the states, with funding allocated based on the number of unconnected homes on the map.
DETCOG’s goal is to help ensure the State of Texas receives its fair share of this funding. If only one percent of the map is inaccurate, 100,000 or more Texas homes could remain unserved. The problem is thought to be even greater in rural areas, where some estimates are that the inaccuracies may be as high as 25 percent. In Deep East Texas that could equate to more than 31,000 homes.
The timeline to participate in the challenge process is short. The deadline for challenges is January 13th. The process requires household residents to review their addresses on the map and report, with evidence, any errors.
For more information contact:
DETCOG Broadband Project Manager