Until late 2014, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA) collected and disseminated broadband coverage data at the federal level through its State Broadband Initiative (SBI). Then the responsibility transitioned to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) which collects broadband data through its 477 data collection program. Under the SBI, wireline (e.g. Cable) broadband data was collected at the census block level in urban areas (as defined by the US Census Bureau). This meant that if a provider indicated they served even a single address in a given census block, the entire census block would appear as served. However, in rural areas, the SBI required the data be collected at the higher resolution of ‘road segment’ (that is a portion of a road between two consecutive crossroads). The reason for the higher resolution in rural areas was because census block sizes are based on population density and so are generally much larger in rural areas. Using a ‘road segment’ specification thus provided a more accurate coverage estimate in rural areas, which typically have less broadband coverage. One of the main changes the FCC made in its collection program was to standardize wireline broadband collection to census blocks in all areas. The effect was to increase the apparent wireline broadband coverage in rural areas across the nation.
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