Communities and broadband grant proposal teams use Community Broadband Kit to get the objective truth about an area’s broadband reality. Update your community’s Broadband Audit, conduct a broadband needs assessment, and find & prove Unserved and Underserved Broadband Serviceable Locations in your broadband grant proposal area.
The short answer: Some folks in your area have bad internet. America’s investing billions of dollars to fix this nationwide.
Your area could and probably should get its share of the money, but it probably won’t. There’s an unreliable map that might not show the real need for broadband in your area, but the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA)’s got your back. If you want, you can prove your area needs better broadband.
It’s up to you to help your area get its share. How can you help to ensure your area gets its share? Ensure your area has an accurate Broadband Audit. The Community Broadband Kit (Kit for short) lets you do that. The Kit gives you the tools you need to understand your area’s broadband reality.
Background: The Infrastructure Investment & Jobs Act (IIJA) of 2021 provides $42.5 billion to close the digital divide through the Broadband Equity and Access Deployment (BEAD) grant program.
States and territories can apply for this grant funding through the NTIA. The program allows local governments and service providers to apply for grants to upgrade or extend network infrastructure to unserved (defined as service below 25 Mbps download or 3 Mbps upload) and underserved (service below 100 Mbps download or 25 Mbps upload) broadband serviceable locations – but only if your state / territory is aware, of and acknowledges this need.
In order to determine unserved and underserved broadband serviceable locations, your state / territory can rely on the Federal Communications Commission's “Fabric” map authorized under the Broadband Data Collection program. This map is the result of the Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act, or the Broadband DATA Act (BDA).
However, states are not obligated to use the FCC's data. There are many reasons why, as a grant applicant, you might not want your state / territory to rely on FCC’s Fabric map to determine your community or grant proposal area's eligibility for BEAD funding.
You can perform your own broadband speed tests. This process requires updating and validating your area’s Broadband Audit through observed performance at broadband serviceable locations.
To ensure your area’s Broadband Audit is strong, defensible, and validated, use the Community Broadband Kit to gather the data your state needs in order to understand the objective truth about broadband in your area.
The Kit lets your community, or grant proposal team, generate fresh, empirical, source-of-truth data about the current broadband reality as experienced by the people who live in the area.
Use Community Broadband Kit to answer these questions, and more:
Community Broadband Kit bundles a number of essential tools into a single, easy-to-use system:
In order to be ready for the upcoming series of Challenge Processes (which kick off once Fabric is released November 2022) you should start using Community Broadband Kit asap. The process is time-sensitive, and not far away. Incumbent monopolies are counting on you not being ready in time.
You’ll want a robust result set by February 2023 and no later than April 2023. It takes time to rally people and anchor institutions in your area, and you need test data across a few weeks in order to make sure the results are fully defensible against monopoly incumbents.
While you could get away with results gathered over a two week period, in practice, you should try for two months to allow time for stakeholder meetings, getting the word out, and maximizing the number of tests taken.
Launching your Community Broadband Kit is easy. Follow these three steps:
The Kit’s software lives in the cloud. You can point to it from a community web address. You don’t need to worry about test infrastructure, unless you want to deploy the open source version.
The Kit pings multiple servers near and far from your test area for a more comprehensive understanding of broadband reality within your area.
The Kit includes a geofence – you define your test area during setup. It’s okay if you’re not 100% certain what areas ought to be included in your Kit’s geofence, because you’ll be able to refine your proposal area in a future step.
Given the massive, rapid need for robust data in order to help state’s guide BEAD allocations to areas of provable need, we decided to make the Kit 100% free.
While the Community Kit is available to start using today, enhancements are on the way. Coming soon:
Have an idea for ways to improve the Kit? Ping us anytime.
Want to inspect the Community Broadband Kit for accuracy, or deploy it in your own suite of broadband tools? We’ve made the source code available for you. Please note, in order to use the open source repository directly, you’ll need two things:
Want to contribute to making the test better? Submit a pull request, and ping us for a shoutout!
The Community Broadband Kit was built following the Broadband Mapping Coalition’s recommended methodology for mapping broadband performance, and with guidance from the Coalition’s mapping experts. Special thank you to Dustin Loup, Lai Yi Ohlsen, Glenn Fishbine, Michael Kleeman, Eugene Chang, Mike Conlow, and David Tuber.
We’d love any feedback. Submit here