By KIRSTEN LASKEY
Los Alamos Daily Post
While Los Alamos County conducted a broadband survey and speed test, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has opened its own study in broadband.
To take part, visit www.BroadbandMap.fcc.gov. Once there, participants can view a map showing where high-speed service is – and is not – available across the country. They can help verify the accuracy of the data shown on the map by filing challenges. Consumers can easily dispute, or challenge inaccurate information shown using tools built into the map
Los Alamos County Broadband Manager Jerry Smith encourages residents to take part in the study.
“It is worth it for individuals to go into the system and type in their address and check to make sure their information is accurate because there are addresses that we think are not listed in the map,” Smith said. “(We think) that are missing locations. The services listed at those addresses homeowners should also validate … overall in the County, it looks like the data is fairly accurate but there are locations that the County has submitted to be corrected (like newer homes) but individuals can submit challenges.”
The information provided will be utilized by the Federal government in determining fund allocation to states to improve their broadband infrastructure.
However, Smith said he said it is doubtful that Los Alamos County would receive any of the federal funds because its needs are not as great as surrounding communities.
Still, it is important to take part in the study, he said.
“The message I want to get out … is that if your audience is bigger than Los Alamos County then we encourage our neighbors to do this because they are considered more rural,” he said. “They can stand to be categorized as underserved.”
And helping its neighbors helps Los Alamos.
“A stronger region means a stronger Los Alamos,” Smith said.
This does not mean there isn’t a need for improving broadband in Los Alamos or that there are no resources available to the County, he said.
One of the things to keep in mind, Smith explained, is that the mapping is not touching on network performance or people’s internet speed versus the speed they are paying for. There are ways people can file a complaint in the FCC’s portal but internet speed is not listed as a challenge on the broadband map.
The County is delving into the issue of internet speed. In October, while conducting the survey on broadband, participants were asked to do speed tests.
The results of these tests will be used to justify that there is a need in Los Alamos if the County requests funds from the state, Smith said.
He explained that “different broadband funding has different rules and if the rules allow for speed test results for justification for qualifying for grants than those are the grants we would apply for.”
Smith added that the state broadband office is working on the mapping effort and submitting its own challenges. The County is doing the same locally, but individuals should check and analyze their own services.
Still, Smith said internet speed and performance is not data the federal government is looking at.
“It is very clear that community sees that there is a need, it just doesn’t align with the criteria the federal has for funding,” he said.
However, Smith pointed out the state has more flexibility and he has been in talks with the state broadband office.
Just what funding or resources the County would pursue is not known right now. Smith said he plans to present the results of the broadband survey to County Council in January and hopefully there will be a discussion on next steps.
Looking at the information that has been collected thus far for the County’s study, Smith said there is a lot of useful data, specifically with the speed tests.