Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
The Burden of Proof - Episode 574 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast
Mapping is hard. You know it, and so do we. Despite that reality, at least from the outside, it looks like the FCC has spent the entirety of this decade avoiding the hard decisions necessary to make sure precious federal dollars are wisely used and the data that drives our policy is easily accessible and faithful to reality. This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Tom Reid, President and founder Reid Consulting Group. Tom shares what his firm has been doing to help local governments get around this persistent problem, and how with some thoughtful design and sophisticated data work we can use what is out there to build a pretty clear picture of the places we need to close the infrastructure gap.
Tom and Christopher end the show by talking a little about how the burden of proof in proving poor, unreliable, or no service is being extended to local governments, households, and nonprofits in the upcoming challenge process for states as the latter prepares for the next stage of the BEAD process.
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Listen to other episodes here or view all episodes in our index. See other podcasts from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance here.
Thanks to Arne Huseby for the music. The song is Warm Duck Shuffle and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (3.0) license.
Tom Reid (00:07):
We like to describe it as bringing a picture of on the ground reality. When we've done the speed test analysis, I can see the reality of broadband.
Christopher Mitchell (00:17):
Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance in St. Paul, Minnesota, and today we are breaking ground in some ways. We are talking with Tom Reid, president and founder of Reid Consulting. Welcome to the show.
Tom Reid (00:38):
Thanks very much, Chris. Happy to be here.
Christopher Mitchell (00:41):
Yes, and I'm excited to talk about how we can use speed tests effectively around the BEADrules. This has been something that a lot of people have been talking about, frustrations for how the F C C deals with it. I think an understanding of why is complicated and how to use this data or these data in effective ways, given that there's a number of potential problems with any individual speed test. So before we get into that though, why don't you give us a quick sense of what ReId Consulting is?
Tom Reid (01:17):
Sure, yeah. ReId Consulting Group, we're a boutique consulting firm dealing with broadband and cybersecurity and overall IT management design.
Christopher Mitchell (01:29):
And you're in Athens, Ohio and we met through the Appalachia Accelerator that Connect Humanity is doing with the Appalachian Regional Commission.
Tom Reid (01:39):
That's right. Yeah. Athens, Ohio has been my home for a long time, lived here longer than I've lived anywhere else, so I consider myself a native even if other people don't.
Christopher Mitchell (01:48):
And for people who aren't familiar, that's in the southeast part of Ohio. It's the Appalachian region part of Ohio down there. I've only been down there one time, but I greatly enjoyed it.
Tom Reid (01:58):
We're in Appalachian foothills and we're also the home of Ohio University,
Christopher Mitchell (02:02):
Which is not the Ohio State University. Ohio University has a green uniforms in sports, I believe,
Tom Reid (02:08):
And we date back all the way to 1804 is the founding of Ohio University.
Christopher Mitchell (02:12):
Excellent. The question today we're going to be talking about speed tests and you have developed a way it seems to use these speed tests in ways that provide a lot of useful information as well as being persuasive to the state of Ohio, perhaps others as to how they can use these data to I think surface some of the problems that we might've missed otherwise. How would you describe what you're doing with the speed test data?
Tom Reid (02:44):
We like to describe it as bringing a picture of on the ground reality. When we've done the speed test analysis and presented it to stakeholders, for instance, to county commissioners, we've gotten very strong responses from 'em of, oh, finally I can see the of broadband. And this has been so much needed because the F C C continues this trust but never verify sort of approach. So the old form 4 77, everybody knew it was flawed. We got this great amount of funding into the F C C from Congress to do better mapping. And in one way it's better in the sense that it's down to specific locations, but it's still a trust but never verify. So there's still dramatic overstatements of availability in the F C C maps. So we found the speed test data to be absolutely essential in trying to bring a sense of reality to the actual experience of the households in any given area.
Christopher Mitchell (03:41):
And I want to note that there are some other folks who are doing cool things with speed tests. It just so happens that with Tom's approach, I thought it was particularly relevant for some of the conversations we're having with state offices and things like that. So no oversight, Glen Fishbein and others who are working with this data as well. I've done, I think breaking some new ground. But let me ask you another clarifying question for people who are not super familiar, and that is to ask, well why can't we just trust the speed test data? People are doing millions upon millions of speed tests. Why can't we just take it out of the box, chart it and call it a day?
Tom Reid (04:23):
Yeah, that's a good question Chris. And I want to reiterate what you were saying is there are a number of people around the country that have been very innovative and they're used to speed test data. So we're not alone in that effort. There's been a lot of discouragement in that community recently because of the F C C stance on it. But for instance, in the state of Ohio when we bought the data, so when we say speed tests, we're using the Ookla speed test intelligence data and we usually get one year historical one year forward data. Well, the one year historical in Ohio had millions of speed tests in it. So it's just a tremendous amount of data. Every speed test methodology has weaknesses. Okla M Lab, they all have weaknesses. So you have to work around those weaknesses. And we stuck with the OKLA data just because of the sheer volume of data that's available to us so that we can then do statistical analysis to try to accommodate the kinds of issues that you're run into with the speed test data.
So for instance, if someone has just subscribed to a really low speed package, this is something ISPs bring up frequently, and that's true. It's going to test as low speed package what they bought. But the idea that everybody in any given geography did that is just a falsehood that where broadband is truly available, about a third of the people in that area will take the highest speed available to them. So if all you see is really bad speeds that it's bad, the other is that maybe they've misconfigured their environment, they have a bad Wi-Fi configuration. Again, the preponderance of evidence is where that comes in is just what do you see and is it widespread? And then the other is that there's a problem, there's a malfunction and that's why the person is running a speed test. And certainly that is a reason you run a speed test, but most people would also then run speed tests again to make sure it was fixed. So hey, my cable modem is not providing the service that I thought it should. I'll reset the modem or reset my router, do a few more tests, and they go, okay, that resolved it, or I need to call the service provider. They tell me it's fixed. I'm going to run some more tests To do that. What we do is we take the maximum speed ever seen in any given location.
You might see 20 tests out of a given location. We'll take that maximum speed out of that location and use that for our mapping to defeat these various types of myths.
Christopher Mitchell (06:57):
And when you say location, do you mean IP address?
Tom Reid (07:00):
The ULA locations are to three decimal places of latitude and longitude. So that gets you to about a football field size resolution. So in an urban area, you're going to have multiple households in an ULA location, you get off into the rural areas, pretty good chance you're dealing with a single household in that location. But it's any households that are within about 100 meters of each other.
Christopher Mitchell (07:26):
And I'll just throw out there, I mean I've been in this situation where I've been having some problems and I dig around, I do a speed test, it's not very great. I then walk my laptop over to the modem, I plug it directly in and I see is the problem with something in my house or is the problem outside and then I get a really good speed test and I know that this is my problem, not Comcast. So then you would take the faster speed test out of that collection.
Tom Reid (07:53):
Christopher Mitchell (07:54):
The other thing I wanted to note is the Euclid data has other information too. You I believe are able to detect if someone is on the outskirts of their Wi-Fi coverage and doing a speed test. Right?
Tom Reid (08:06):
That's so one of the fields that the data, there's a lot of information in there. And so one of the first is how much a latency is there in the very first hop from the device to the Wi-Fi router or what is the signal level? And so if it's a bad Wi-Fi connection, we drop those records from the analysis.
Christopher Mitchell (08:25):
So you're able to still have plenty of data to work with in these regions.
Tom Reid (08:29):
We end up losing about half the records because if there's no G P SS data, we throw the record out. If the G P SS information has an accuracy of worse than 200 meters, we throw the record out. So some of the speed tests end up basically going to the OID of a census block or the OID of a county. We don't find that real helpful. So we only look for ones with a high level of G P S accuracy.
Christopher Mitchell (08:59):
And so now we have all these records. And what have you done with them then? Aside from making more accurate maps than other people have?
Tom Reid (09:10):
Yeah, so what we do is we take those and we see if we have enough data to grade census blocks. So we've stuck with the census blocks because the census blocks nest. You can do census blocks, block groups tracks, and they nest this weird H three architecture that the FCC has gone with. So H three R eight is what they publish. If you go up the hierarchy, they don't nest. If you go down the hierarchy, they don't nest. It's very difficult to project and kind of aggregate bigger groups. So we've stuck with census boundaries. So we grade census blocks. If there's not enough ULA data to grade the census block, we'll compare it to other blocks in that block group and see if there's similar population density. If they are, we'll go ahead and assign it the value of the block group. And so far we've been able to get very close to a hundred percent either through the block or block group rating and population density. Turns out to be just a wonderful predictor of broadband that you get into low population density and people just haven't put investment dollars there even if they were paid to do it. That's a big pet peeve of mine as we've spent about 100 billion over the last 30 years from the F C C to the carriers to solve the rural infrastructure issue. And I don't know where the money went, but it didn't go to rural telecommunications infrastructure.
Christopher Mitchell (10:39):
I think one of the things that we talk about sometimes is that the mapping lines up very well with where the largest companies got the money. Because if you look at North Dakota amazing connectivity, if you look at Illinois, there's a lot of local providers that have done a good job. Minnesota is right in between there, has a lot of great rural coverage. And so I'm guessing you see that as well.
Tom Reid (11:05):
Yeah, we have a little southeastern Ohio telephone company, Manford Telephone Company. They've built fiber to the home throughout their entire footprint instead of abusing the money for other business initiatives.
Christopher Mitchell (11:19):
I want to come back and there's a few people I think myself included who aren't entirely sure what you said about G I ss, but if I could interpret what I think is the F C C releases the data in a format that it has picked for some reasons, but that is not really just super useful for the analysis that you want to do. And so you basically translate it back and forth as needed. And that's just I think probably not super important for the purposes of this call, but it is just worth noting that nothing is easy in this work.
Tom Reid (11:53):
No, the F C C data does include census blocks. So you'll see this is the H three R eight designation. Here's the census block designation. So it is helpful from that way, but the H three R eight hexagons don't line up with census block boundaries either. So it's an imperfect process until you get all the way down to the individual point data.
Christopher Mitchell (12:17):
So now we have a sense of what the region is looking like. You've used this, I think, to work with local governments to give them a better sense of where they have problems and where they don't have problems. Is that right? Have they found this to be really effective?
Tom Reid (12:34):
Yeah, we have three councils of government that retained us over the last few years to do this mapping for them, and we just mapped the whole state because it's easier than carving out specific counties. So we mapped the whole state, which was helpful, but in these Appalachian counties that we focused on, our very first reality check was to go to the county commissioners and say, this is what we think reality is, and any other stakeholders the commissioners wanted to bring in, we found just tremendous agreement with our findings. So that was really helpful to get that sort of truth check from those folks. And it's had a big impact on advocacy. So these county commissioners can go into the governor's office or to their legislators and say, Hey, this is the reality that we see. We think this is correct. And so it's really empowered people with the talking points.
And then we also have shared all this information with the information or the Internet service providers and the rural electric cooperatives, and it's been leveraged in about 52% of the wins In the first round of Ohio's broadband expansion grant program. Our data was considered acceptable evidence that an area was unserved and about 130 million awarded out of that program to people using our data. And all of them were about a 50% match. So that's about a quarter billion dollars worth of projects that have been launched specifically off of our data. And the state also then contracted with us to create a profile for every county in the state based on that speed test data.
Christopher Mitchell (14:19):
And we'll come back to the state in a second, but I wanted to note you're talking to local officials and I feel like local officials in many cases, I'm guessing, are people who are like, we're hearing that this is a problem. We know that it's a problem for our lived experience, but we see data from the federal government saying that we actually have pretty good coverage, and I don't know, many of these people aren't very technical. Maybe they just don't know how to use it, what's really going on? And then you're able to step in and say, well, here's real life data that I think they can say, oh, good, I'm not crazy. I understand. And then similarly in the state capital for the folks who are doing this can say, oh, okay. Now I'm hearing constantly from some companies that they don't have service and the companies that provide service are saying, no, no, no. Look at these maps. We're providing coverage. But you can present a real picture on the ground of what it looks like. You've had maps I've seen that have shown areas that look fairly well-served with some holes here or there actually mostly holes and not covered.
Tom Reid (15:23):
Yeah, yeah. You look at the S C C, what I call the I S P fantasy for the state of Ohio and compare it to the reality that we believe exists. It's stark and basically there's almost no broadband problem at all according to the F C C maps in the state of Ohio when we're saying there's hundreds of thousands of households that can't even get 25 3 services in the state of Ohio. So a really big disconnect there between the F CCC maps and for the people on the ground, it's like a gaslighting. If we can refer back to, I think that movie is made back in the forties. The idea that we just keep saying something is true even though the people on the ground know it's not. It's extremely frustrating. There's a little village called Amesville in Athens County, and the mayor of Amesville got his whole council together to sign a letter that he sent to the Public Utilities Commissioner of Ohio and to the F C C saying, look, your maps say that we have mobile services and your maps say we have good broadband services.
Neither of those is true, and in a lot of times if it rains, we lose our landline telephone services. So we're really talking about taking these communities back to the 1930s while the maps say everything's fine there, and it had no impact. Their letter had no impact on the F C C, it had no impact on the public sales commission. The maps were not updated, they were skipped in the rural Digital Opportunity fund. So it is really frustrating people on the ground and it feeds this sort of distrust of the government, which is really unfortunate.
Christopher Mitchell (17:09):
Yes, I think that it's a significant issue. I try to avoid being too political on this show, but part of growing up is recognizing that the things that you view as this is the first time that's ever happened is that it has happened a lot before, but it does feel like we are in a particular era of people saying, don't believe your eyes right now. And it is very frustrating.
Tom Reid (17:32):
Well, and there's not really Republican or democratic angle on this. The problems with these maps, the problems with funding carriers and not having any accountability, it spanned Republican and democratic administrations. It doesn't seem to make any difference.
Christopher Mitchell (17:51):
I agree. Although I always feel like as a person who hates false equivalents, I do feel like both sides are not equally to blame. It does feel to me. I mean, one of the things we'll say right now is all of this money going into broadband is because of Democrats in Congress who made it happen. The Biden administration prioritized it. There's no reason we couldn't have done this earlier during one of the infrastructure weeks of the Trump administration. No, absolutely. With that, I'm going to just for people who are frustrated with not agreeing with my politics, I hear you. But the interesting thing is what comes next then Tom, which is that you've done what I think what we've described so far is interesting, but what's really powerful is that the state of Ohio listened to you and it has reversed the burden of proof when it comes down to who is responsible for proving whether or not a given area has service in different regions. So walk us through how we got there.
Tom Reid (18:52):
Yeah, it took a while There were briefings. So the head of the broadband Ohio office is a fellow named Peter Berg, really talented individual that knows a lot about broadband. And when I first met him, there was no broadband Ohio. We went up to brief him on broadband topics because he was advising the governor's office on those topics. Then later they appointed him head of broadband Ohio. We were really pleased to see that he understood our conversation. I mean, he caught on right away, started asking really good questions, and that has just continued. A lot of states are not blessed with really good broadband offices. Ohio is blessed with a very good broadband office. And so we did end up with Peter and I went to Lieutenant Governor's office to explain the methodology, explain the findings, and at that point, the Lieutenant Governor's office accepted it and allowed us to publish these on broadband Ohio's website. It is an ongoing effort to try to convince politicians and the lobbying from the telecom industry is very intense. So we're lucky this is stuck in the bead program. The big first decision are pre challenge modifications. So every state has to put in their volume, one of their initial plan, their plan to do pre challenge modifications, and Ohio has been pretty aggressive in their plans.
Christopher Mitchell (20:26):
Let me just quickly see if I can do this quick for people who, most people I think are like, I kind of know what you're talking about, but I always try to go through this. So the states had to develop a five-year plan. Most of those states have done that. That five-year plan is either being reviewed right now or soon, will be reviewed already has been reviewed by N T I A that informs the initial plan. And some states are very close to finishing their volume, one of their initial plan, and they'll then have to do volume two, and then they will get a pot of money after that's approved, then they will do a final plan. The important part of this is that they have to develop a challenge process. And the challenge process is basically saying that at a certain point, the list of eligible locations that can get money to get better Internet access will be fixed and it will not change. And so we're going to do a big challenge process to fix that. And so the N T I A has offered suggestions for challenge processes and states are doing a pre challenge process that you're talking about. So what does the pre challenge process do?
Tom Reid (21:39):
So the pre challenge modification, the state takes the map from the S C C and then applies their pre challenge modifications that N T I A has approved. For instance, in the state of Tennessee, they're saying we're doing no pre challenge modifications in their draft volume one in Ohio's volume one, what they submitted to N T I A recently says they accepted T'S D S L downgrade. Well, they'll consider D SS L areas as underserved, which we think is really good because nothing wrong with digital subscriber line technology, it's just that the copper is too old. The second thing they're doing is proposing to downgrade fixed wireless to an unserved status. And then they proposed a speed test process as well. And what that does is there should be a lot of locations that would be kind of green in our nomenclature that will turn red in the sense of needing to be funded based on their pre challenge modifications. Then they have to put it out the challenge.
Christopher Mitchell (22:48):
So Ohio is, and people that follow me with the wisp world are tearing their hair out a little bit, but some of the areas that are green in your data, it's because a wisp is serving them with a high quality connection. The speed tests are coming through well, but the state says we are nervous enough about this technology on the whole that we are declaring it unserved. And so they're going to be adding locations that you would've said through your data are not necessarily the high priorities?
Tom Reid (23:17):
No, no. Quite the opposite.
Christopher Mitchell (23:19):
I got that wrong. Okay.
Tom Reid (23:20):
Yeah. So the fixed wireless would show in the F CCC maps is providing the coverage.
Our speed test data generally does not see that where the fixed wireless providers are claiming that it's not universal. I own some property east of here and I'm close enough to a highway that I can pick up a four G signal from at t or five G signal from at t and get a couple hundred megabits. But you go right down the next hill and they can't get anything at all. But the map shows they can. So I'm not saying fixed wireless can't provide good services. It's in an area like ours, particularly with the rugged terrain and the heavy foliage coverage, it's not universal coverage.
Christopher Mitchell (24:05):
Right. Okay. So when you said the areas that were turning green that are green, you're talking about the F CCC map, not your data?
Tom Reid (24:12):
Christopher Mitchell (24:13):
Okay, that makes sense then. And then I'll also just note, I would've liked to have seen D S L be tossed into the unserved rather than the underserved, but we'll still take the win.
Tom Reid (24:22):
Yeah, me too. I agree.
Christopher Mitchell (24:24):
Okay, so the state, before the state opens up for a challenge, it will make these modifications and the state will basically say, we have this list and these locations, I'm going to guess it's in the neighborhood of what like 150,000 locations are unserved?
Tom Reid (24:39):
Yeah, it's probably closer to 250,000.
Christopher Mitchell (24:41):
Okay. So on the order of 250,000 locations are unserved in the state of Ohio. And then they're going to go through a challenge process, which is mandated to be, what, two weeks or 28 days or something like that?
Tom Reid (24:52):
Something like that? Yeah.
Christopher Mitchell (24:53):
So there's a mandate as to how long it will be where nonprofits like myself can collect data and say, you got this wrong. And also ISPs can say, you got this wrong. So that process then will winnow us down and the state will have to adjudicate whether or not the challenges have merit or not.
Tom Reid (25:16):
And this process is something that the state of Ohio did in their first round of residential expansion grant programs last year, that they allowed our maps to be evidence and then said to the ISPs, if you disagree, prove it. So if somebody applied for funding in an area, then an ISP is saying, no, I've got good service. They said, well, prove it to us. And they rejected about 80% of the I S P challenges as not having sufficient evidence. It's a little broadband office at the time, I think there were only four people in that office, and they managed to reverse the burden of proof and raise the bar. Now, there were other cases where, yeah, I S P claims were supported. Most of those were. We're building that out in the next two years. We agree it's not there now, but we're already in the process of doing it. It's totally doable to reverse the burden of proof and have the ISPs prove it, because having nonprofits try to gather all this data, who has funding for that? Who has staffing for that? It's a big lift.
Christopher Mitchell (26:21):
And to be clear for people, states can change this, I believe, but the recommendation, which we think most states will go with what N T I A recommends. And so in that situation, if you would like to make a challenge, and again, I hope I'm not get this too wrong, but you'll correct me. Basically, an organization like mine would have to work with people locally to do a series of three speed tests within a specific window of time and collect that data and then present that. That's a burden of proof being on the households and whatever nonprofits are scattered around. You're talking about a burden of proof where there's enough evidence to say that it looks like the ISPs are overstating their coverage. The burden of proof should be on them to demonstrate that they can actually deliver these speeds to these locations.
Tom Reid (27:07):
Exactly. Exactly. Because that big challenge process, the most useful approach that we think is going to be there are challenging census block groups. So if you get six challenges inside a census block group, now you have an area challenge. So you challenge that whole area instead of just those individual households. We think that's the most effective approach. And the speed test data can help you target that, but it's still a big lift. What are you going to, you got people canvassing door to door to try to find six households participate, and there's no funding going to these nonprofits to do this work. It is really a difficult process.
Christopher Mitchell (27:48):
And for people that I think if I remember correctly when I talked with Christine, our senior GIS person on this, I think a block group is about a thousand people or a thousand households or so.
Tom Reid (28:02):
It'll vary from, but yeah, roughly
Christopher Mitchell (28:05):
In a more urban area and then fewer in a more rural area. So six is not undoable, but still, I encourage anyone listening to go around, knock on 10 houses of your neighbors and tell 'em you want to talk about how their Internet's doing today and speed tests. And I think most of 'em are going to say, I'm busy. I'm going to work. I've got kids with homework. I'm not going to mess around with this.
Tom Reid (28:24):
When they have to provide their name, their address, who their service provider is, what speeds their subscribing to and document that for you, give you a copy of the bill, that's a lot of information for someone to share with some nonprofit. And the other wrinkle in that is you really need to challenge based on the fabric ID location. So now you also have to have them search through the map to find out what their fabric ID is rather than just their address. Yeah, it is a tough hurdle. It's not going to be easy for people to do that.
Christopher Mitchell (29:03):
So the moral of the story is, and I think this is one of those things we come back to that an individual speed test doesn't tell us a lot from a policy point of view, but we can use a smart algorithm to get the data in a condition where we can trust it for a given number of locations in a region like a county or something like that. And then we can use that to demonstrate that, hey, this I S P actually seems to be pretty close to what they advertise given Pat on the back. And for some other ones that are significantly out of step with what the data shows, then you could say this is an area that needs more investigation and this is where we should reverse the burden of proof.
Tom Reid (29:47):
Christopher Mitchell (29:48):
Yeah. I mean, I think you've seen this, but there's places where there's claim to be a gigabit of service and there's never been a speed test more than 20 megabits as second or something like that.
Tom Reid (29:57):
Right. Well, we've run into that even in urban areas. When the governor's office released our maps, I had some folks from cable companies that were really upset saying, well, no, we have gigabit to the curve there, but it's in an impoverished area of a city with a multi-dwelling building. And it's like, well, yeah, but if the people in the building can't actually get it, and they're like, well, that's not our responsibility. Well, is it the landlord? Is it the resident? All these finger pointing In that way, the rural areas are actually a little bit easier because it's pretty much, it's usually single family homes, so it is not just a rural issue.
Christopher Mitchell (30:42):
And I think that's the sort of thing where we need elected officials to take this more seriously. And so that might be the other high horse I'm on right now, which is I am deeply frustrated with the local officials that are continuing to bury their heads in the sand. There are a lot of local officials who are getting educated on this, taking it seriously, but for every one of them, it feels like there's five to 10 others who are saying, I really hope someone just solves this so I don't have to think about it. And that problem that you're describing, if we're going to spend tens of billions of dollars in a number of places, we may not solve that problem. If it's actually not the issue that we think it's because there's not a recognition of all the other challenges that might go in, I shouldn't say challenges, the other issues that can factor into whether or not a group of people has Internet access that they can actually use.
Tom Reid (31:31):
Yeah, I think it's going to be interesting. Prior to the bead program, we had an opportunity to brief the White House on our findings in Ohio and extrapolate it across the country. We suggested a budget of 135 billion nationwide, and that would be everything except the frontier areas where you've got one household in five square miles. And
Christopher Mitchell (31:52):
By frontier you mean remote, not the company frontier.
Tom Reid (31:55):
Yeah, except for the very remote areas, and we got 42 and a half billion, so about a third, and then inflation, and this industry has gone crazy, so it's probably 30 billion worth of actual work that's going to get done for what we think is $130 billion problem. One of our goals is to try to get entire counties solved because if you solve an entire county, we think 10 years from now you're going to look at counties that got solved and counties that didn't get solved, and there's going to be such a big difference in the economic measures.
Christopher Mitchell (32:34):
Yes. This is something I think the Virginia office does well in my understanding of how they work with providers is they don't just take an application and then say, well, here's the money or here's not the money. And I'm not saying they're the only one that gets in and wrestles with these issues, but they have a specific focus on making sure that a provider getting money is able to reach out and connect everyone that needs it in the county rather than just hoping that someone will fill in afterward for the areas that don't get it. But I mean, I suspect that what your maps will continue to show is over the next three to five years, we'll see some of these areas that are showing up as being very red, as unserved will be turning green, and yet other areas will remain red on the federal maps. They might always be green, but they're
Tom Reid (33:23):
Christopher Mitchell (33:24):
Right. This is an area where, I mean, I think I am super annoyed. I've said this every chance that I get. I think the whole idea of calling this Internet for all is dumb. It's bad politics, it's counterproductive, but every state I expect is going to be supposed to be meeting every unserved household, but we don't have anywhere near the data that we need, and we're not taking it seriously to incorporate data that you're doing to identify what areas are being skipped over with this historic funding.
Tom Reid (33:53):
It's true, and it's interesting you mentioned over the next few years what our mapping will show. It's not at all clear that our mapping will still be happening in a few years because our funding came through grants that Council of governments received. Well, those grants run out, and right now, our ULA data runs out December of this year. We don't have a source of funding to subscribe to the ULA data after that. So that's another issue here is these consumer advocacy groups don't have this ongoing source of funding like the telcos do.
Christopher Mitchell (34:31):
And I can tell you on top of that, philanthropic funds have dried up. We're doing more contract work now as an organization, and we are more reliant on very generous individuals and that sort of a thing than we are. We used to get most of our funding from foundations. Now it's a smaller percentage because there is a perception in philanthropy that government is solving this problem because of the Internet for all. So yeah, I mean, I think that it is going to be a situation that I hope there'll be enough funds to continue doing the research to make sure that people are truly connected over time.
Tom Reid (35:06):
Yeah, me too.
Christopher Mitchell (35:07):
Tom, thank you so much for coming on and sharing what you're doing, and it's really inspiring work out there in Ohio.
Tom Reid (35:13):
Well, thanks Chris. I'm really glad to know you and I appreciate the work you're doing as well.
Ry Marcattilio (35:18):
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