Solutions to Broadband Access: Mapping the Digital Divide
Improving broadband access is a major initiative in the U.S. Last year’s infrastructure bill included substantial dollars to make it more accessible. Bill Price, the Vice President of Government Solutions for LightBox, joined Wavelengths host Daniel Litwin to discuss access and funding. Price, a broadband mapping architect, managed the development of one of the most granular, state-level broadband mapping programs in Georgia. The two also discussed what companies like LightBox are doing to bring high-speed internet to all U.S. residents.
In addition to the infrastructure funding, additional money is available through the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF). While there’s excitement about expansion, challenges remain.
RDOF released round one of funding but nothing additional due to bottlenecks, such as incomplete data. There isn’t enough accurate reporting on rural and underserved areas’ service needs. Some areas marked “serviced” may not actually be. Getting the correct data on these areas is the key. LightBox is focusing its efforts there.
“We’ve known for a long time that we didn’t have the best, most accurate data to make funding decisions,” Price said. “Prior to COVID, there wasn’t that much money in play compared to what we’re looking at now. We’ve gone from a small, moderate amount of money to significant, larger than anybody in their lifetime seen become available to invest in expanding broadband infrastructure.”
No one wants to waste these funds, so the information must be credible in the areas of need. “The less quality the data, the less accurate the data, the more the chance of not achieving those goals,” Price said.