Representative and soon-to-be Vermont Senator Peter Welch is urging Vermonters to challenge the Federal Communications Commission's (FCC) broadband coverage map because of its wildly inaccurate and overstated internet and mobile access in the Green Mountain State.
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"According to the FCC, 95 percent of households in Vermont have access to broadband, whether through fiber cables or satellite providers. Vermonters know firsthand, however, that this is not the case," said Welch's letter.
Welch notes that Vermont will receive a minimum of $100 million in federal broadband deployment grants, but additional funding is at stake if the FCC uses its estimate of Vermont's coverage.
But the FCC doesn't make it easy to submit a challenge.
Compass Vermont, whose headquarters are in a rural area of Washington County, tried to follow the FCC process. Here are the steps.
Connecting to the special FCC webpage.
When we clicked on the link, we came to a page called Broadband Data Collection Consumer Information and a form to enter our address to see the FCC's estimate of our broadband and cellular coverage.
In our case, the Commission estimated our cellphone coverage at 71.34%. In reality, we have zero bars and zero coverage. But to challenge their findings, we first had to download their "special" app.
The app didn't work on our Macbook Pro, so we had to use our Starlink connection on our iPhone to complete the download. Once the app was downloaded on our phone, we disconnected our Starlink connection before running the speed test.
Unsurprisingly, the test immediately failed, given we have no cell coverage. This was our chance to challenge the coverage, and we submitted our results, so we clicked the "Finished" button.
However, having no cellphone coverage, did our results go through? The FCC doesn't tell you. It claims it received our submission but without any proof that it actually registered our challenge.
As heart-warming as their thank you message for our submission was, Compass Vermont has no confidence nor ability to know if our data was registered.
Bottom line? Welch is following from his office, where the broadband coverage is surely better than in the Green Mountain State.
I will continue to advocate for funding for broadband deployment until every community in Vermont and across the country has affordable and reliable service," said Welch.