This Is Not the National Broadband Map We Were Promised - Episode 555 of the Community Broadband Bits Podcast

It's strange to see the FCC continually patting itself on the back for releasing a new national broadband map. Spend just a little bit of time with it, and the cracks and holes quickly show themselves. This week on the podcast, Christopher is joined by Christine Parker, Senior GIS Analyst at ILSR, and Alexis Schrubbe, Director of the Internet Equity Initiative at University of Chicago. They do a deep dive into the many, many problems that persist - from bad ISPs claiming service to locations where they have no presence, to missing locations, to the mountain of work the FCC has offloaded onto the rest of us in fixing a map that it paid a lot of money to assemble. 

Christopher, Alexis, and Christine also untangle the ongoing challenge process for unserved, underserved, and served locations, and the timeline that states have in preparing to subgrant hundreds of millions in BEAD dollars starting in 2024. It's not all bad news - they end the show by talking about what state broadband offices, individuals, nonprofits, and others can do to band together, find good partners, and make sure their community gets counted in our national broadband service census.

This show is 38 minutes long and can be played on this page or via Apple Podcasts or the tool of your choice using this feed

Transcript below.

We want your feedback and suggestions for the show-please e-mail us or leave a comment below.

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.


Alexis Schrubbe (00:07):
Having media, having stories, having, you know, boy Scouts of America, girl Scouts of America, run around and ring doorbells right now. That's the work that needs to be done to be well poised, to take advantage of the state level challenge process.

Christopher Mitchell (00:22):
Welcome to another episode of the Community Broadband Bits podcast. I'm Christopher Mitchell at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance. On the show today we have Christine Parker, senior GIS analyst, with the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, my shop. Hi Christine. Hi Chris. How you doing?

Christine Parker (00:43):
I'm good, how are you?

Christopher Mitchell (00:44):
I'm doing good. I'm excited to talk about N T I A challenges and stuff.

Christine Parker (00:49):
Yeah, more maps all the time.

Christopher Mitchell (00:51):
<Laugh>. We also have Alexis Strubey, director of the Internet Equity Initiative at the University of Chicago. Welcome.

Alexis Schrubbe (00:59):
Thank you Chris. And thanks Christine for allowing me to come hang out with you guys today so we can talk about maps.

Christopher Mitchell (01:05):
Two of you are people that I immediately turn to and I'm like, I don't wanna learn this stuff. Can you just do it for me, <laugh>?

Alexis Schrubbe (01:11):
So what you're saying is you wanna copy our homework?

Christopher Mitchell (01:14):
Oh, yeah, a hundred percent. I'm not even gonna put my name on it though. I don't care. <Laugh>. So there is a key message that people should take away from this. We'll have lots of interesting things to say, but this one is key. And what is that, Alexis?

Alexis Schrubbe (01:29):
Right now it is extremely important that communities still continue to add locations to the FCC broadband fabric. Full stop. We had a big push to add locations all throughout the winter, and those locations had direct impact on BEAD allocation from the federal to the state level. And so I'm sure a lot of folks are thinking, Hey, you know what? We did our job, we're done here. We don't need to add locations. It's still incredibly important because of the way that the rules are written or suggested right in this moment from N T I A during the state level challenge process, which is an interesting little repeat of what everybody went through this winter. So rural areas, urban areas, and most importantly, tribal areas. Get into the maps, get your GIS folks on it, and add those locations. If those locations are not on the map, they won't be eligible for funding when the state level funds are released.

Christopher Mitchell (02:33):
Even if you're having challenges with the fcc, the act of trying to add them, I think helps you with your state office, which might be more competent and friendly than the fccs process. That's my take on it. I'm asking anyone else to comment on it if they don't wish to. But you know, my, my sense is, is that some of the state offices are trying to figure out how to fix some of the glaring holes in the fccs process. And so you wanna work with the state as you're adding the data as well.

Alexis Schrubbe (03:01):
I think so. And I think that local communities actually have a really great hold on location data. And because the initial FCC challenge process happened so quickly, mobilizing equalization people or mobilizing folks who do GIS for other things, you know, there's probably folks that map out cemeteries out there in counties across America who can be turned into turning those dots, you know, from nothing into a dot onto the federal map. And so we've kind of gone through this, we know a little bit more about the process, and we can start to mobilize those folks and use their talents to actually replicate the good that's going on.

Christopher Mitchell (03:46):
So if people want to, one of the tools that we recommend, we're not gonna go with a full on discussion about it, but one of the tools that we recommend, and I think Christine helped to demo it at our last building for digital equity event back in February, is a project called Taylor. And if you go to, that will take you to a site where you can click through and look at past live streams, and then watch the one the top from February, 2023. And in there you'll see a demo of this tool Taylor, which can help for people that are super savvy on GIS to compare data sets and find locations that might have been overlooked. With that said, people should be continuing to add locations into the fabric and working with the state as they do so we're talking about the guidelines around the challenge process that states are, are going to be implementing. And we just went through a comment period where N T I A was seeking comments, so we don't have that finalized yet. But Christine, what are we talking about in terms of a challenge process? What, what's the challenge process?

Christine Parker (04:54):
Does the process by which organizations like sub-state organizations, smaller governments nonprofits, Tribes can challenge the locations that states are presenting in terms of their availability for funding when BEAD funds are rolled out?

Christopher Mitchell (05:12):
Chris Mitchell cannot challenge as an individual, but I've put on my I L S R cape, correct, and hey, Presto, we can challenge.

Christine Parker (05:19):
Absolutely. Yes, yes. You may not as an individual participate. So, but once you have a a, a group name, yes, you can.

Christopher Mitchell (05:30):
Right. A registered with the state group name <laugh>.

Christine Parker (05:33):
Yes. Yep. Everybody gather your groups

Christopher Mitchell (05:37):
<Laugh>. Right? And this is not just whether or not locations exist, in fact, it's not even really very much about that. It's much more about the status of each location. Right?

Christine Parker (05:46):
Right. Because primarily it's going to be unserved locations and then underserved once all of the unserved locations have been funded other less

Alexis Schrubbe (05:56):
Priority options

Christopher Mitchell (05:58):
After that. Excellent. Anything to add to that, Alexis?

Alexis Schrubbe (06:01):
Yeah, no, location, location, location, right? Like they say the whole piece about, you know, Chris, you joked that Chris cannot challenge a location, but his friends as a group can challenge a location. I think that that's kind of one of the really important pieces of the N T I A guidance process that we're kind of waiting on to see whether or not individuals will indeed be allowed to add challenges to the state map. This all comes again with the big caveat that state broadband offices can make their own plans and submit those plans to the N T I A for approval. So a state might think, you know what, we actually really would like our individual citizens to be able to upload these challenges. So big giant asterisk there. But I think that the important takeaway in involving community groups here is that it adds another step in the process.

So we've got individual people who are experiencing crummy Internet, and they wanna change their fate. So they go and they look up the rules, and if they are subscribed to the highest speed tier available, they're allowed to take a series of three speed tests between seven and 11:00 PM and submit the results of those speed tests to whichever organization is aggregating those data. So we've got a series of very complicated steps that a person, individual at their address has to do. And then adding into that another step where they hand it off to an organization who then aggregates the data, then shares it to the state. So wedging in another step in the process kind of gunks up the system a little bit and adds barriers to allow people to advocate for better broadband.

Christopher Mitchell (07:57):
Okay. So we're gonna go over that a little bit more slowly again in a second for people. But as we're going through this, like, I, I th I don't even know if I said the words BEAD yet, but we are talking about the 42 and a half billion dollars that are going to the states through BEAD. I think most people got that, but some of y'all might be thinking, wait, am I thinking about the right bucket of money? Yes. The big bucket of money and the rules around that. And the way that works just to step back for a second, is over the course of this summer, different states will be hitting their deadlines where they have to turn in their, not the initial plan, what's, it's a five-year plan. The five-year plan, I cannot even believe like how <laugh> ludicrous is. There are

Alexis Schrubbe (08:38):
Many plans

Christopher Mitchell (08:39):
Involved, right? So they have to turn in their five-year plan on June 30th all goes to plan N T I A will roll out their big announcement of how much money is going to each state kicking off a six month window ending on December 30th. Thank you very much. In which states have to develop their initial proposal. So volume one states have already been developing a five year plan that is gonna help inform their initial proposal, and then somewhere down the line, it's so far in the future, I can't even think about it. They have to develop a final proposal as well. But when the f when the initial proposal is accepted, that's when they get 20% or more of the funds that will come to them, which means that it will be 2024 before any state will get any funds. And I don't think it's gonna be very early in 2024 before states get the funds. So that's the rough timeline. Anything we wanna add on that quick before we dive into this segment of it that's around the challenge process?

Alexis Schrubbe (09:43):
I'm glad that you have that memorized because I do not. So thank you for that. That was really good.

Christopher Mitchell (09:48):
You know, when you're an expert in front of a room and people ask you this question, you're like, I should really know that after you, that happens 10 or 15 times, you have a few scars and you think, all right, I'm gonna, I'm gonna figure it out. <Laugh>. So the way a lot of states have given out money in the past is they've been like, give us a proposal. We have money. And then someone ISPs come forward and say, we would like this amount of money to serve these homes. And the state's like, that looks like a cool idea. And then there's a challenge process after all that work's been done. And then other companies come in, some of them in good faith, many of them unfortunately in bad faith and say, oh no, we're already serving all these people with super awesome service. And then there's a fight at that point, toward the end of the process, we're having the challenge fight at the beginning of the process here. And so areas that are eligible will be eligible, and we're not gonna have a fight at the end, we hope <laugh> on this. But this is not about whether or not locations exist. This challenge process is trying to figure out, you know, are they served, are they unserved or are they that in between area, which is underserved? So who wants to describe the differences between those three states?

Alexis Schrubbe (10:59):
Alexis, me one is a liquid, one is a solid and one is a gas <laugh>.

Christopher Mitchell (11:05):
I'm the gas. Oh, we're not talking

Alexis Schrubbe (11:06):
About usually the gas <laugh>.

Christopher Mitchell (11:10):
Okay. I could just run through it. I mean, it's basically, I mean, we're talking about, tell me if I'm wrong, but it's basically, and then to understand what the designations are, unserved is basically, you, you have nothing. You're less than 25 megabits down, three megabits up reliably. And un underserved is you have something and that could be older cable technology or fast D S L or pretty good wireless using license frequencies, I'm guessing, under their rules. And that would be, you have more than 25 megabits down and three megabits up, but you have less than 100 megabits down and 20 megabits up. And so that's where underserved is. And then if you're in my neighborhood where, you know, Comcast and CenturyLink offer pretty decent service to most people, then you are considered well served. Yes.

Christine Parker (11:59):
Okay. That sounds

Christopher Mitchell (12:00):
Right. The challenge process will be, have we correctly described these different services that are there? And now this N T I A says we have to go through four phases. The state has to publish the eligible locations, right? And then presumably that's coming soon because in June Christine, the map will be released, right? The next version of the map, which will be used for allocations on a state by state basis, right? It's

Christine Parker (12:28):
May 30th. Oh,

Christopher Mitchell (12:30):
May 30th. Okay. So probably after this show is published that map will already be released at that point. That's phase one. Phase two is where we'll be able to start doing challenges. Each state at some point we'll use that map to say we're using all of these locations are eligible. They will say, all of these locations are unserved, all of these other locations are underserved, and all of these locations are served. So there'll be three classifications, I think, broadly that we would expect. And then there will be a challenge process in which organizations, tribes, local governments, can challenge those designations. Then there is a chance for a rebuttal from the ISPs that are involved. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, the ISPs can be all like, no, I totally, really serve them. And who knows what kind of evidence they have to produce. Do you have any sense, Alexis? Well,

Alexis Schrubbe (13:26):
That's one of the things that was a major concern for a lot of advocacy groups after the model challenge process was released, is how are we gonna know if an I S P pushes a speed test to a router, will that methodology be available for the public to examine? Will experts be able to weigh in on whether or not that was, you know, that test was a good test.

Christine Parker (13:49):
And when they're occurring too, like the timeline, like having them in the same window all the time is not a really rigorous way of testing performance of networks. So that, that was something that we commented on in the, in the comments that were submitted by the National Broadband Mapping Coalition. Also, I, I wanted to, I don't know if, if this is technically a fourth designation, but community anchor institutions are also included in here, and their eligibility for service or funding is also something that can be subject to challenge as well. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, if I'm not mistaken.

Christopher Mitchell (14:26):
Okay. So this would also apply then to anchor institutions. So went through the four phases publish the locations, and then the opportunity to challenge them rebuttals from the ISPs, and then a final determination from the state or Puerto Rico or other entities that either sustain or reject the challenge. Now, this is where Alexis, as you were, how the, the, I, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance cannot mount a challenge that says, we asked them to do a speed test and they did it, you know, at 3:00 AM and we found this. So, so, you know, we think we should change the status. We need to have a sophisticated methodology in order to do this challenge.

Alexis Schrubbe (15:12):
That's exactly right. They actually, the N T I A actually lays out kind of a decision tree on how to go about that whole entire thing. I have it printed out right in front of me right now, and you might have heard me flipping through it. I apologize for the flipping of the papers. But indeed, yes. So it is a very, it's four pages long for what type of challenges are allowed. And importantly, like you mentioned Chris Q. Public can't submit this, but rather needs to coordinate with a community anchor institution, a nonprofit, or a government in order to be able to challenge availability in the state level maps as the N T I A has suggested right in this moment.

Christopher Mitchell (16:02):
And that could still change, right? We're talking about draft rules still and correct. People have submitted comments to that. So what we're describing right now is what was proposed and also some of our responses to that.

Alexis Schrubbe (16:13):

Christopher Mitchell (16:14):
Okay. One of the things I wanted to emphasize is that, once again, this is not about <laugh>, like is the location correct on the map? This is what we're talking about here is, is a designated broadband serviceable location correctly described as unserved, as underserved or served. So, right. Both of you have, I think several concerns with the model rule that we haven't yet touched on. Christine, are there any that, that you'd like to raise?

Christine Parker (16:42):
I guess it's one that we've been reiterating is that we can't add to the map. You know, that's, that's going to be an issue. And I think there is one caveat in the nofo that would allow the assistant secretary some leeway in terms of like allowing the additional or allowing funding for those additional locations that aren't included in the map. So like a small slush fund, I guess you would call it to, that would give states a little cushion for those locations that are just not getting in there on time.

Christopher Mitchell (17:16):
So to be clear then, cuz we've told people they should keep adding, and we're also saying you can't add to it. This is,

Christine Parker (17:22):
It's not a guarantee <laugh>, and it depends on the rules,

Christopher Mitchell (17:25):
Right? So we do know that we need to keep adding to the map, but adding to the map will not change the state by state allocations. Those were set in stone a long time ago, and N T I A and the FCC were super weird about telling us what dates they were and when that was, when that window closed. I think there was some significant shading of the truth in ways that, I don't know if it was a Republican fcc, I think a lot of public interest groups might have been really upset about, I don't know, possibly at any rate, fcc has closed that window for the state by state allocations. The fabric is set, however the fabric will be used for other things that are important. And so we need to keep trying to get locations on there. And I'll reiterate what Alexis said, especially tribes who I think have been particularly underrepresented in the fabric.

So one of the things that I was told by an F P O is that locations that are not in the fabric and again, this is not about the state by state allegations, but this is about the fact that locations have to be in the fabric at a certain point to be eligible to be funded. There is some wiggle room for states to be creative in terms of, of applications perhaps you know, looking at certain areas and tying in other state funds or other things to cover locations that don't make it in. So this is not the end of the world, but things will be easier if we get locations on the map.

Alexis Schrubbe (18:58):
Exactly. And you know, Chris, I think that w you have been sharing and, and talking about the indigenous connectivity summit and some of the things that have been going on up there, and I listened to some of the talks that were live streamed and heard the challenges that folks in Indian country faced when they're, you know, completely left off of these FCC maps and heard some things that Alaska is doing to be able to actually get people's dwellings acknowledged on the map. And it's a very bizarre yes indeed, it no longer counts for tho those allocations have been made. However, we still, if it's not there, it's not there. If you're not there, you're not there. And so the best chance, you know, why not broadcast, why not hurry up and add as many locations as you can in the off chance that all of these rules, the pin is set in place and then you're really well poised to focus on availability at the state level.

Christopher Mitchell (20:06):
Right. And I think because this is such, so complex, I wanna take one other stab at saying it. We cannot change how much money a state is MA is going to get, but what is still at stake is where the state can spend the money. And so Exactly that is in quick drying, cement, <laugh>, and Exactly. And so we wanna make sure that states have as many eligible locations as possible before that concrete or cement dries.

Alexis Schrubbe (20:31):
Exactly. Yep.

Christopher Mitchell (20:33):
Okay. what other things are we concerned about from the challenge process that the model that was proposed?

Alexis Schrubbe (20:40):
So one of the things that I have concerns about is you know, there's this magic 10% number in MDU challenges in buildings and in areas. And so we are asking questions here at the University of Chicago about sampling and about geographic delivery of service quality. And some of us have experience living in older buildings, and some of our community partners actually are working on broadband alternatives for older buildings that have crummy wiring. So, you know, just curious about like how N T I A came up with the numbers that either three units per building or 10% of a building, whichever is larger. That's the rule. That is the threshold by which the entire building is counted as served or unserved. And my concerns are that not enough people's experiences are going to be counted overall. My concerns are also that the rebuttal process, how, how do we know? Is it the same units? Is it the same 10% of the building when ISPs say, well, we think that perhaps these people might not be subscribed to the top speed tier, they didn't provide that evidence. How do we decide which of those apartments to sample in urban areas? You know, that's kind of a challenge here. The quality of service delivery. Just curious about how those numbers came to be.

Christopher Mitchell (22:15):
Yeah, I mean, I, I would say that the, the flippant response to you, Alexis, is it doesn't matter, like <laugh>, the, the urban areas of Chicago aren't getting it much <laugh>. You know, and and I, I don't know how to, how to respond to that. I mean, what we have here is a fundamental failure of an expert agency to develop rules that can actually be handed out that can actually work or develop the technologies. You know, we're, it is not a surprise that we are here, right? People who are not geniuses, I think 10 years ago recognized that the Internet was gonna be important for the economy and people would need to have access and we would need to have some way of knowing where Internet access was available. And that includes in apartment buildings and other places. <Laugh> and the FCC under Democratic and Republican administrations consistently refused to do anything to actually develop accurate data or methodologies that we could use in these situations to know where there is good access. And so, I, I think you're raising good questions, Alexis, and I think it's good that, that this will be fleshed out because hopefully over two or three muddy years, we'll develop a consistent set of principles that we'll be able to use moving forward. And that's why it's important that people do participate in this, because these are the rules that will be used moving forward. It'll be the principles that we live by. I'm guessing,

Alexis Schrubbe (23:42):
And to your point, Chris, the way that you just discussed, capturing these data and understanding where broadband is and where broadband isn't. I think another kind of broader concern that we have, the community has, we all share from the broadband mapping coalition, just from talking to friends like you guys the transparency in the process, it's the waters are a little muddy and it's hard to, it's hard to wrap your mind around some of the decision making that went into some of these rules. I have a hypothesis as to why some of the thresholds are very high. And I think that, you know, in particular, this hypothesis speaks to good faith from our organizations that, from N T I A, that they want to enable citizens to be able to pass these challenges and not have their data be immediately rebutted by broadband providers. So some of the rules are confounding and challenging because that allows for the most accurate representation of lived experience. But again, when it gets back to like the sampling frame or what does an area mean, you know,

Christine Parker (24:54):
Yeah, there's some major holes in, in the rules that they have laid out so far. Like you were just saying the area, the challenge areas, like they haven't defined a geographic unit. And now, you know, we've moved from census blocks, which was like the default geographic unit that we, you know, defined broadband access on, but now we've moved to locations. And so in the rules, they're talking about challenge areas and they haven't defined like what, what that actually means. It's like the most vague term possible.

Alexis Schrubbe (25:20):
An area challenge is triggered if six or more broadband serviceable locations using a particular technology and a single provider within a census block group are challenged.

Christopher Mitchell (25:30):
I'm, I'm not following that.

Alexis Schrubbe (25:33):
Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>, I think that's the point. <Laugh>

Christopher Mitchell (25:35):
And super clear,

Christine Parker (25:37):

Christopher Mitchell (25:38):
<Laugh>, I always wonder if it's 9:00 AM maybe I would've followed it, but <laugh> it's not. Right. <laugh>? Yeah, so, you know, I think the, the lesson out of this is for people, there's a, there's a lot of detail here, but key takeaways are we need people to continue adding locations into the map. I will say that, and we're, you know, I, this will air right around the time, probably just before our building for digital equity event on June 7th where we're gonna talk about, there's all these different things to do. We have limited time and capacity, where are we gonna put our efforts? I don't think it makes a lot of sense to put a ton of time into trying to fix the maps at this point except, unless that's part of a broader local organizing strategy. However, if you are on reservation and or elsewhere in Indian country where there are a lot of locations missing, yes, it does make sense to put time into that.

But if you're in Minneapolis or you are in you know, a more rural area where most of the locations are, right I would say I would put more time into organizing around trying to make sure you have a co-op or someone that is good that is gonna be going after that money rather than trying to make the maps perfect. Because the maps are, are gonna be a mess. There's just no doubt about that. But there are places where we absolutely need to put some time into adding locations to them. Any any rebuttal on that? Alexis? I, I

Alexis Schrubbe (27:09):
Do, I have a

Christopher Mitchell (27:10):
Rebuttal. The maps I

Alexis Schrubbe (27:11):
Have. You

Christopher Mitchell (27:11):
Wanna marry the maps?

Alexis Schrubbe (27:12):
I do. I have a, I don't wanna marry the maps. No, but I do have a rebuttal. And that rebuttal is, you know, the variability in the maps in particular, I know this firsthand from Chicago. I'm sure this is replicated in other cities and other places, but address data is kind of all over the place. We saw this when terrible. Robert visited your show and used his tailor tool to kind of show the differences between addresses and where the docks are

Christopher Mitchell (27:42):
Actually right? That's the February, 2023 building for digital equity event.

Alexis Schrubbe (27:46):
Correct? Exactly. Yes. So, no in particular, there are interesting places around urban centers where wireline service drops off and fixed wireless picks up, or there's pockets of D S L in little places. I've been working with our state broadband office to figure out where the likelihood that there's only one provider in a neighborhood is, and potentially honing in on some of those areas to find out what's going on. So your comment about mobilizing co-ops, I don't necessarily think that adding locations to the map takes away from that. Rather, I think it amplifies the on the ground, getting your hands dirty and really knowing what the situation is and speaking to some of those, you know, neighborhood groups. Community anchor institutions or schools in particular know where some of those pockets actually are mobilizing that too, also input those locations into the map.

I don't think that they have to compete with each other. The reason we're having this discussion today is because, so very few people have had time to sit down and familiarize themselves with the BEAD model challenge process simply because, look, we gotta get ARPA dollars out the door. We're worried about our digital equity plan. The layers and layers and layers of responsibility that are stacked onto our public servants and other stakeholders in this space. They're only growing more complex and the stakes are higher than they've ever been. So hopefully borrowing some expertise from the community and borrowing some input from mobilizing folks on the ground to externalize some of this work will serve both of those purposes.

Christopher Mitchell (29:41):
Right. And this is where being strategic is key. You don't know where to start and you're in a, especially if you're in a more rural area, school district, the school district knows where the pockets are. They know where the kids don't have Internet access faith groups you know, there are places where you can sort of get a sense of, of where to start. I think. So I, I'm just leery of people. I, I don't wanna spend people spending tons of time doing what the FCC should have done, you know, seven or eight years ago

Christine Parker (30:08):
In, in terms of encouraging people to continue to work on adding locations. I think it isn't, it continues to be important because N T I A is not yet, to my knowledge confirmed what version of the map will be used. And if states can adjust their list of locations based on the version of the map that's available at the time. So if they get their proposal out later in the year like shortly after the new map comes out that may influence their list of locations and what is available. So can I use the example getting

Christopher Mitchell (30:42):
Sure. So are the maps released every, every six months? Is that right, Christine? Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And so presumably the way the timing will work, states will have to get their initial plan in the, the first draft by the end of 2023. And N T I A will take a not insub substantial amount of time working through them and working with, working with states to finalize that draft. It is very likely that some number of states will start to get approved in May and June before the next edition of the map comes out, presumably toward the end of June. Let's just assume that it'll be around then. And so the question is, are states stuck with the map that had come out four months prior, or did they, can they say we're gonna wait two months for the next map because there's gonna be different sets of, of locations in the fabric, presumably at that point. And so what you're saying, Christine, is states may not know which set of locations they have to go with,

Christine Parker (31:39):
Right. And the next, you know, after the, the map that comes out in June, the next version will be sometime in November. And so that, I think still gives states some states like maybe a month or so to like, put together the proposal still. And so they, you may have like conflicting versions happening, and it's just not clear from the current rules what, what's going to happen with that.

Christopher Mitchell (32:03):
It's tricky. Well, I'm sure if we get enough money to cost quests, we'll get access to enough data to figure something out. <Laugh>,

Alexis Schrubbe (32:09):
I don't know. I I, I I have no clue because, you know, band hammer. So

Christine Parker (32:13):

Christopher Mitchell (32:15):
Any, any final points before we release our audience?

Alexis Schrubbe (32:20):
I, I think that reiterating reading the four pages of acceptable challenges, it's complicated and it's going to be a heavy lift. It's gonna be a heavy lift to mobilize individuals to also coordinate with anchor institutions and organizations who can interface between the state. And so starting socializing the need for coordination now, no matter what rules N T I A does finalize starting that work now, starting coordinating at the local level, mobilizing hyper local intelligence and expertise, finding that one uppity person in your community. There's always one uppity person who takes 15 different ulu b tests and emails, their county commissioner every single week about how their, their broadband stinks. Find that person, get them a clipboard and send them around to spread the gospel of paying attention to what's going on. That is the best way to plan no matter what the rules are, despite the fact that these are kind of long runways, having media, having stories, having, you know, boy Scouts of America, girl Scouts of America run around and ring doorbells right now. That's the work that needs to be done to be well poised to take advantage of the state level challenge process.

Christopher Mitchell (33:48):
And to be clear, I think this is where the difference of opinion that I have with you, Alexis, I think as we can make it clear to our audience, is that there is, there are groups of homes out there who right now have some form of crappy dsl and it is gonna look on a map like they have 25 3 mm-hmm. <Affirmative>, and they in reality probably do not. And the difference of whether they are considered unserved or underserved is the difference of whether there is gonna be any money available to improve their service. Mm-Hmm. <affirmative>. And I am very close to saying, I am worried that this process is so complex and I have so little faith of the federal and the, and the FCC at this point, that we should just focus on other things. And you're saying, no, Chris, you idiot get the map right <laugh>, and let's make sure that we can get money there. And that's sort of, I think a little bit of the difference of our points of view on this.

Alexis Schrubbe (34:39):
Yeah, I mean it just depends. It depends, you know, what universe of rules you would like to exist in. Do you wanna play in the rules that are set out right now and see if you can take advantage of that or not? In my experience, you know, in my role at Merit going out into the communities and causing a kind of hullabaloo to pay attention and take speed tests meant that people's awareness was raised broadly about how we can change the end user experience ourselves. And that we do have some stake in the game. Of course. No, we can't arm wrestle at and t each of us <laugh>. But heck, if you've got a data cap and t-mobile wireless fixed wireless service that cuts out constantly and you look on the map and it looks like you're served, maybe something more is going on there and finding those individuals who are disgruntled, finding those students that actually have a really hard time when they go home engaging with their homework, IT directors can see that information from their end of a school district. Right? So finding those pockets, working with your, you know, what, whatever that deputy person is or your county government in order to find those folks, I think is absolutely worth it. And you never know along the way, you might get more fans of this podcast and fans of broadband inclusion in general by participating in this process because people actually see the data know, you know, they might have a chance at impacting it, enter the information in there, coordinate, be part of the process.

Christopher Mitchell (36:25):
Yeah. And that's, that's the part that I agree with a hundred percent, which is that if you are doing this as part of a larger strategy to make sure that people are creating these local digital equity communities and committees and coalitions and whatnot, that is what we need to be doing right now. And one way to do that is to organize around these various challenge processes and whatnot. But the ultimate thing that I would tell people is if you are sitting back and complaining and listening to this show and, and that is sort of your contribution you know, you might wanna get off Twitter and work with some neighbors to get out there with a clipboard or you know, find a way to table and work with other folks because I'm assuming that pretty much everyone listening to this show is also active. But this is a participation sport and people need to get out there.

Alexis Schrubbe (37:13):
It is. And not only is it a participation sport, like we need to corner people at parties and in grocery store lines. And you know, I can't tell you how many phone numbers and dates I've gotten by cornering people at parties and talking to them about broadband policy. It works every time 100% of the time. Just kidding. Yeah. Anyway, you've

Christopher Mitchell (37:33):
Perfected that whole like intense stare without blinking while you're going through some data set <laugh>.

Alexis Schrubbe (37:39):
It's very effective. Exactly, exactly. Look at this map right now, fix your dots. But in all seriousness, your listeners, indeed, most folks that are listening to this podcast probably have an awareness of the complicated nature of the N T I A state level challenge process. But what they need to do is evangelize other folks and bring them along and turn other people who are IT professionals or people who are interested in inequity broadly, bring them into the fold. Don't just listen and think, yep, I've done my part. I am paying attention to the maps. I am in this little digital equity group where we kind of decide whether or not artwork is going to attract people to donate computers. Heck no. Bring more people along with you. This undergirds everything that we do in our modern society. Full stop.

Christopher Mitchell (38:30):
Thank you both for your time today. You're

Alexis Schrubbe (38:33):
Welcome. Thank you very much.

Christopher Mitchell (38:35):
And that's the challenge process.

Ry Marcattilio (38:38):
We have transcripts for this and other podcasts available at muni Email with your ideas for the show. Follow Chris on Twitter, his handles at communitynets, follow muni, stories on Twitter, the handles at muni networks. Subscribe to this another podcast from I L S R, including Building Local Power, local Energy Rules, and the Composting for Community Podcast. You can access them anywhere you get your podcasts. You can catch the latest important research from all of our initiatives if you subscribe to our monthly While you're there, please take a moment to donate your support in any amount. Keeps us going. Thank you to Arne Hughes B for the song, warm Duck Shuffle, licensed through Creative Commons. This was the Community Broadband Bits podcast. Thanks for listening.